Human Services Inspector: Job Description and Requirements
Human services inspectors work with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to investigate and follow up on crimes related to human service programs. These inspectors and investigators work closely with programs such as Medicaid and Medicare, child support, child abuse, and internal fraud. Due to the sensitive nature of these investigations, the inspector must be well trained in job specific skills and demonstrate high levels of discretion.
Human Services Inspector's Job Description
There are two main types of human services inspectors: those who work with data and those who work with people. Both types of inspectors carry the same job title, but their job descriptions differ.
Abuse and Neglect Inspectors
Once an inspector receives a report, it must be reviewed and any urgent needs must be acted upon. The inspector must discern whether or not immediate relocation of a victim is required, whether a scene needs to be secured for evidence gathering, and whether there is enough evidence available to merit an investigation. In most cases, by the time the investigator gets the report, emergency services have taken immediate steps towards securing the victim, but at times more information will be required and will need to be weighed before action can be taken.
Human services inspectors must use tact and sensitivity when interviewing victims and witnesses of abuse or neglect. Many victims are children and senior citizens in distress and may have a difficult time communicating. The inspector must also weigh merit potential when interviewing witnesses because various accounts may be contradictory.
Once a determination has been made, the inspector must write a report that supports the decision. At times, the inspector may be required to testify in a courtroom. Communication skills both written and oral are essential.
These human services inspectors focus on reports of lack of adherence to laws and standards, mismanagement of departmental funds and other related issues. The majority of these workers are employed at a higher level by the Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General's office. Not only do they investigate and report on incidents of potential fraud, waste, and abuse, they also find ways to streamline programs for higher efficacy and financial feasibility.
Human Services Inspector Requirements
Inspectors must have at least a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, social work, psychology, sociology, or a related field. Job specific training is given by all HHS offices once the inspector is hired and must be completed before the inspector is allowed to conduct investigations.
Some state level departments require additional training and certificates, such as investigative certification. These programs are generally offered through the state. On a federal level, investigators may be required to carry firearms and must receive appropriate training and licenses.
Salary and Job Outlook
Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) does not provide data specific to human services inspectors, it does for the closely-related job title of social worker. The BLS predicts that the employment of all types of social workers will likely increase by about 25% from 2010-2020, and predicts that more specifically, job opportunities for child, family, and school social workers will grow by approximately 20% during the same decade. The median annual salary earned by child, family, and school social workers was reported as $41,530 by the BLS in May 2012; those working for the government (federal, state, or local) earned an average salary of $50,160 a year.
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