TNCC Offers New Career Studies Certificate in Human Services

Published: January 20, 2011

HAMPTON, Va. – Thomas Nelson Community College (TNCC) has expanded its offerings this spring semester to include a new career studies certificate in Human Services. The Benefits Program Specialist certificate program prepares individuals for work as entry level benefits/eligibility providers within the Commonwealth’s Social Services system.

Benefits Program Specialists help people navigate through a myriad of Social Services government assistance programs. These professionals provide assistance ranging from information about eligibility criteria and help in applying for benefits, to assistance in receiving benefits, covered services or appealing denials and terminations.

TNCC Professor and Program Head for Human Services Anne Andrews said Virginia’s Benefits Program Organization (BPRO) prompted development of the new 18-credit program. “BPRO wanted to have in place a means of getting quality training for their current and future employees, so they came up with the outline for a certification,” she said, noting that BPRO members visited several Virginia community colleges in fall 2009 seeking support.

TNCC’s efforts to add the program began in fall 2010. “Although one other college worked on developing the certificate, TNCC was the first to get it through the approval process in the curriculum cycle,” added Andrews. TNCC will provide classes for the new program online making benefits program specialist certification even more obtainable for the 2,500 social service providers across Virginia.

Andrews said students enrolled in the Benefits Program Specialist certificate program will earn credits toward an Associate Degree in Human Services. The program is open to individuals working in the Department of Social Services as benefit providers, current Social Services employees wanting to become benefit providers and others who are interested in Social Services employment as benefits providers. The training the program affords prepares students for jobs other than benefits program specialist, she added.

Andrews said all students enrolled in the program will do an internship in a local Department of Social Services agency. “This is not a guarantee to employment, but certainly will help,” she added.

The program includes six three-credit courses:

HMS 100 Introduction to Human Services
HMS 161 Professional Skill Development for Human Services
HMS 162 Communication Skills for the Human Services Professional
SOC 215 Sociology for the Family
HMS 226 Helping Across the Cultures
HMS 290 Internship in Human Services

Thomas Nelson offers an array of Human Services courses which are listed on the web at To learn more about the new Benefits Program Specialist certificate program at TNCC, contact Professor Andrews at 825-3507, or visit BPRO’s website,

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