The Expansion of Human Services in Allegheny County, 1968-95

The Expansion of Human Services in Allegheny County, 1968-95




The following research study examines the role that the process of policymaking assumes in the extension of human services in Allegheny County. Accordingly, the case study examines the manner in which the issue underwent management. In order to do perform this analysis, the research utilizes different policymaking models to identify the procedure taken in promoting the expansion of human services in the county.

The Expansion of Human Services in Allegheny County, 1968-95

The extension of human services in Allegheny County has instigated extensive research concerning the process of policymaking especially in America. The respective county has received significant accolade based on the way it has capitalized on human services. Because of this, policymakers refer to it as the framework for an interoperable human services structure. Nonetheless, the issue in this case does not necessarily involve a study of the human services framework evident in Allegheny County. Instead, much of the assessment concentrates considerably on the various political models used in the policymaking procedure. Consequently, the alteration in the quality and amount of amenities that occurred within the human services field influences an evaluation of the archetypes used and the issues arising from their implementation.


Discussion 1

Relating to the Allegheny County case study, the assessment supports the utilization of the rational model in the augmentation of human services within the respective district. Undeniably, Commissioner Foerster embarked on a series of objectives that largely centered on the adequate provision of human services in the country. In order to attain such ends, Foerster engaged in a range of activities evident of influence from the rational model. One activity that proves this is in accordance to the access to primary necessities. Commissioner Foerster chiefly concentrated on initiating and developing opportunities for each person in Allegheny County to have access to the necessities in the community (Clemons & McBeth, 2009). In addition to this, the leader also ensured that every person would gain such basic commodities regardless of their social and physical statuses. Even though the model is dogmatic as emphasized by critics, Foerster utilized it to guarantee that the basic needs of the vulnerable populace would be accomplished.

However, the case study does not support the utilization of the political model. This model calls for non-rationality and focuses rather on the temperament of the political system, which affects the development of policies. Accordingly, policies are affected since policy makers operate in a surrounding characterized by aspects of pluralism, fragmentation, checks and balances, democracy and federalism (Clemons & McBeth, 2009). Concerning Allegheny County, it is evident that not much of the respective archetype was under consideration. Foerster did not focus enhance policies based on their occurrence. Rather, most of these policies actually occurred as an outcome of the policy process model. The policy process model is evident based on Foerster’s actions towards Allegheny County. Indeed, the leader used the model by fusing it with the rational model. For instance, he provided pragmatic policy initiatives that underlined and endorsed the needs for children, disabled persons, and senior citizens as well as for troupers and families. 

Discussion 2

The Cobb-Elder model on agenda setting places emphasis on three aspects that relate specifically to the process of policymaking. Concerning the case study, there is enough evidence to support the involvement of each aspect in the extension of human services within Allegheny County. The first aspect, issue creation, is present whereby the respective country realizes that its current provision of human services is actually an issue that requires immediate resolution (Burton, 2001). Accordingly, the socio-political events and trends characterizing the United States between the 1960s and 1990s were responsible for facilitating this increased desire for efficient human services in the district. Hence, such events, for instance such as the Civil Rights’ Movement, were triggers of the human needs expressed in the county. At this first stage, the policy initiator, who was Commissioner Foerster, interacted with these triggers, allowing him to create an issue involving the need to enhance human services into that of an agenda status.

The second stage of the model involves issue delineation and the utilization of symbol. Accordingly, setting an issue as part of the agenda status involves determining the general underlying problem affecting a number of different occurrences (Burton, 2006). Usually, such incidences possess a certain connection with the overall problem. At this point, the county experienced a range of problems that deterred it from providing sufficient and quality amenities to its inhabitants. This was due to a consistent increase in population. Such an amplification of people challenged the distribution of sources further making it impossible to provide adequate human services at the time. Based on this, the Commissioner determined that the reason for the insufficient supply of amenities was due to the provision of human services, which had remained unchanged over the years regardless of the subsequent increase in population.

The third phase of the model comprised acknowledgement of the disparate access patterns. Typically, issues within the public sector do not necessarily form part of the institutional agenda. This means that it is not obligatory to involve government action since it may be impossible to receive such assistance. Regardless of the inaccessibility of such support, it is still possible to gain support for mitigating the issue at hand and ensuring that it undergoes resolution at the systemic agenda phase (Hallahan, 2001). For Allegheny County, solving the human services issue did not necessarily involve the utilization of assistance from the federal government. At this point, Foerster was able to augment the operations of the County government in order to enable it manage the community’s resources (Clemons & McBeth, 2009). Based on the backing of the County government, Commissioner Foerster was able to institute a variety of policy funding initiatives for support centers of individuals of all ages.

Discussion 3

While discussing the policymaking process, Kingdon emphasized on a triad of separate rivulets that affected policy development in society. The first one constitutes the problem stream. This section constitutes of the probable catalysts that actually indicate the existence of a problem within the society (Walker, 2000; Clemons & McBeth, 2009). An example of such a catalyst constitutes comparative data. In the respective case study, comparative data relating to the county’s population influenced the respective society and government to conclude that there was a crisis in the provision of human services. For instance, the data collected in 1990 asserted that 72 percent of the populace actually resided in the county in contrast to the 1950 data (Clemons & McBeth, 2009). The second part constitutes the policies stream. This segment involves the inclination towards the creation of policy proposals based on the effect of the catalysts.

At this point, certain aspects such as technical feasibility and the cost are applied in order to determine the best possible alternatives for solving the issue raised by the respective catalysts. In Allegheny County, the danger of insufficient human services as an outcome of an increasing population prompted the policymakers, primarily, the Board of Commissioners, to present ideas based on the discussion of the county’s needs (Clemons & McBeth, 2009). The final stage comprises the politics stream. This section entails the keenness of the policy institutions of the political system towards placing particular issues upon the official agenda. At this point, the aspects considered constitute electoral, pressure and partisan group factors. In relation to the case study of Allegheny County, the politics stream was evident based on the legislations created to assure the extension of services to the inhabitants. At this point, the rivulet coincided with the other streams and therefore allowed the County Government to obtain a larger jurisdictional authority in order to expand on human services.


In conclusion, the models employed in Allegheny County under Commissioner Foerster worked well for the occupants in general. By using the rational and policy process model, the Commissioner gained the ability to ensure that every person, irrespective of their physical or developmental impairments, attained access to the community’s resources. In addition, Foerster was able to guarantee this by stipulating practical policy programs catered to solving the needs of each inhabitant. Furthermore, the correlation between issue creation, definition and symbol use as well as acknowledgement of dissimilar access patterns enabled the Commissioner to manage the problem effectually by using the support resources already available. Finally, the problem, policies and politics streams worked in favor of the Commissioner enabling him to extend human services in the county.


Burton, P. (2001). Wading through the swampy lowlands: In search of firmer ground in understanding public policy making. Policy Politics, 29(2), 209-217.

Burton, P. (2006). Modernizing the policy process: Making policy research more significant. Policy Studies, 27(3), 173-192.

Clemons, R., & McBeth, M. (2009). Public policy praxis: Theory and pragmatism: A case study approach. Upper Saddle River, N J: Pearson.

Hallahan, K. (2001). The dynamics of issues activation and response: An issues process model. Journal of Public Relations Research, 13(1), 27-59.

Walker, W. E. (2000). Policy analysis: a systematic approach to supporting policymaking in the public sector. Journal of Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis, 9, 11-27.

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