211 LA County’s development of the Taxonomy of Human Services has revolutionized the field of Information and Referral. The Taxonomy is a powerful indexing tool that enables community resource databases across North America to be organized and managed according to a uniform standard. It has been endorsed by the national association Alliance for Information and Referral Systems (AIRS), United Way Worldwide, the National Association of State Units on Aging and the Public Library Association.
Common Language and Collaboration
The Taxonomy of Human Services provides a framework for common language to bridge differences of terminology used throughout the Information and Referral (I&R) Industry. The Taxonomy defines services by type and by target population and assigns a term. Terms are arranged in a hierarchy allowing users to “drill down” from broad categories to specific services. It also points to related concepts outside of the hierarchy and anticipates variations in language. The Taxonomy fully describes each term and gives details about the context in which the type of service is provided. This thoroughness has reduced the confusion about what each service offers and has helped to pinpoint duplication or gaps in programming.
Consequently, the Taxonomy is a useful tool not only to information and referral services but also to social planners, funders and policy-makers when allocating resources. It is effective in facilitating smooth communication of needs and services in every community. A common language of human needs and services allows for greater collaboration and partnership between service providers and among I&R centers in order to better serve societal needs.
Automation and Customization
Taxonomy was designed specifically to leverage electronic database technology in order to enable more efficient cataloguing and retrieval of resources. In addition, license holders may customize a unique filter if operational needs require a more focused or specialized list of taxonomy terms.
Example of Taxonomy Drilldown