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The Value of Relationships: Improving Human Services Participant Outcomes through Social Capital

Publication Date

This handbook is a go-to resource for human services providers looking for practical ways to implement social capital building practices to improve participant outcomes. Building on findings from over a year of research on ways human services can build and leverage participant social capital, or the value that arises from connections, networks, and relationships, this handbook details five principles undergirding social capital practices and eight emerging social capital practices. Included in the description of each emerging practice are real world examples of how they have been implemented across the country and a worksheet to help human services providers think about how they can implement these practices in their own work. In addition to the full handbook, the following are available:

Emerging Social Capital Principles

  1. People at the Center
  2. Relationships as Assets
  3. Staff and Participants as Partners
  4. Cultural Competence
  5. Emotional Intelligence

Emerging Social Capital Practices

  1. Use Peer Groups to Engage Participants: Peer group or cohort approaches can help participants share experiences, build stronger networks, and develop more personal relationships.
  2. Help Participants Build Quality and Meaningful Relationships: Human services providers can build meaningful connections with participants through time or intensity of interactions.
  3. Tap into Organizational Social Capital to Increase Participant Social Capital: Organizations also have social capital which can be accessed to create and build connections for participants.
  4. Use Technology to Build Participant Relationships: Technology can be used as a tool to enhance communication and help build community among participants.
  5. Use Data and Logic Models for Social Capital Decision Making and Evaluation: Data and logic models can be helpful to understand how social capital building activities support participant outcomes.
  6. Create Space and Opportunities that Foster Organic Connections: Organic connections are often the most meaningful and organizations can foster these relationships through creating environments and times for them to develop.
  7. Include Qualified Individuals or Alumni in Programming and Staffing: Hiring individuals with similar experiences to participants can help participants develop trusting relationships with staff.
  8. Emphasize Accountability: Social capital grows when individuals hold each other accountable and organizations can promote this through written or verbal agreements.

Related Products

For more information on ASPE’s social capital work, visit the social capital landing page.