The Human Services Academy Model

What is the Human Services Academy Model?

The Human Services Academy (HSA) was founded in 1997 as a workforce development program at Mental Health America of Los Angeles. The HSA model was a school-within-a-school program that operated at two Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) high schools. The HSA model was designed to increase the college and career readiness of urban high school/secondary students interested in the helping professions or mental and behavioral health. The HSA model combined classroom instruction with real-world experiential (work-based) learning experiences for predominantly students with grade point averages (GPA) between 1.80 to 2.50. The 1.80 GPA student was defined as students with low aspirations and had not yet found a purpose to be excited about coming to school and see themselves as college- and university-bound. The student defined as lacking direction were the students with a 2.00 GPA. These students had been thinking about attending college, but lacked proper guidance or direction on making college and a degree achievable. The students with a 2.50 and above were described as lacking a pipeline program that could helped shape their college and career goals. These students showed an interest in pursuing an education and career in mental and behavioral health, but did not have a program to belong to and to participate in college and career field trips.

Why where these students recruited and enrolled in the program?

The rationale was the educational disparities among the minority and low-income student population. The majority of these students did not have access to adequate college and career readiness resources. Additionally, these students lived in communities that were historically underserved and suffering from systemic inequities in access to and utilization of resources and services. It is also important to mention the shortages of culturally, linguistically, and contextually appropriate mental and behavioral health professionals. The majority of HSA students were bilingual (i.e., Spanish and Tagalog), bicultural and many with lived experiences. The HSA students with this background were ideal in: (1) providing translating and interpreting in the preferred language of a mental health consumer; (2) understanding and seeing the need and pain from the mental health consumers’ perspectives; and (3) filling in and alleviating the immediate need for workers at community and county organizations to serve the most vulnerable populations of Los Angeles.

School Sites

The HSA model was established at two high schools in Los Angeles Unified School District. The HSA at Narbonne High School was established in 1998 and the second HSA at Huntington Park High School in 2000. Narbonne High School can be described as a large urban public high school that served close to 3,500 students in grades 9 through 12. Narbonne High School was diverse with a student population of 57.3% Latino or Hispanic, 20.8.% African-American or Black, 10.7% White, 6.0% Filipino-American, 4.8% Asian-American and Pacific Islander, and 0.4% Native American. Huntington Park High School was also a large urban public high school that served close to 4,200 students grades 9 through 12. The ethnic composition for Huntington Park High School was predominantly Latino or Hispanic at 98.6%, 0.6% African-American or Black, 0.4 Asian, 0.3% White, 0.1% other. 

The Origin of the HSA Model View Report

The Updated HSA Model View Conceptual Model