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Life Lines
 News about people and programs from the 
 Seattle Human Services Department
APRIL 2010
Race and social justice and delivery of human services
Kip Tokuda
People of color are more likely to be homeless; children of color are more likely to be behind in school; youth of color are more likely to be "disconnected" from school; and women of color are more likely to be victims of domestic violence. These are grim and sobering facts that we must keep in mind as we provide human services to community residents, and they are a reminder that the work to achieve race and social justice must be a sustained effort. I'm pleased to note that Mayor McGinn feels just as strongly about this issue, writing recently in his blog, "I am committed to incorporating the City's Race and Social Justice Initiative into all aspects of my administration."
For our part, the Seattle Human Services Department (HSD) is working to assess our policies and programs to address disparities and better help underserved communities. More specifically, HSD is working in 2010 to
  • Develop a coordinated outreach plan to seek community input into our programs and practices;
  •  Include specific goals and outcomes aimed at decreasing disparities in Request for Investment processes;
  • Assess and improve services to immigrants and refugees;
  • Identify gaps in services to limited English-speaking victims of domestic violence and sexual assault; and
  • Consider disproportionate impacts in policy, budget decisions.
Addressing these issues is critical to our moving forward.

Seeking department director: applications due April 9


Applications are still being accepted for the position of director of the Seattle Human Services Department. The position announcement came out in March and applications are due by April 9, 2010. Helping Mayor McGinn in this search is a diverse search committee, headed by Acting Director Kip Tokuda. For a complete list of committee members, click here .

For details, please see the position announcement.

Susan McCallister puts the 'People' in PeoplePoint


Susan McCallisterWhen Susan McCallister receives a call from people who need public benefits, they are sometimes at the end of a very frayed rope. Frequently, they have called other resources for help without success, and their desperation has grown as they struggle to make ends meet.

"People often come to us as a last resort," says Susan, who is a supervisor in the Seattle Human Services Department's PeoplePoint program. "I want to let people know what's available to them and make sure they get everything they need--and more."


PeoplePoint connects people with federal, state and locally administered public benefits and other services. In 2009, PeoplePoint helped nearly 11,000 people gain access to benefits including food assistance, child care, preschool, energy and utility discounts, and health insurance, as well as referrals for job training and other asset-building services. As the economy has faltered, PeoplePoint services are needed more than ever. Susan and her staff help people over the phone, by e-mail and outreach into the community. In one instance, Susan recalls a visit from a young woman who was six months pregnant with twins and had been trying for several months to receive pregnancy care under Medicaid. Susan listened to her story, collected all relevant information, and conducted a conference call with staff at the state Department of Social and Health Services to resolve the issue. The next day, the pregnant woman received the medical coupons she needed to retroactively cover her medical expenses.


For Susan, customer service is paramount. "Access to benefits can be hard," she said. "You have to know where to go. You have to know what questions to ask." PeoplePoint staff help customers navigate the sometimes daunting bureaucracies of government. To better serve clients, PeoplePoint, with the help of a federal stimulus grant, will expand its reach through an improved phone system, a consolidated application, coordinated outreach, and a new statewide benefits Web portal that will greatly simplify and streamline the application processes.


For more information, visit the PeoplePoint Web site or call 206-684-0355.

$25.5M grant to combat obesity, tobacco use


CPPW logoPublic Health - Seattle & King County has been awarded two highly competitive federal grants totaling $25.5 million over two years to address obesity and tobacco use. Obesity and tobacco use are leading contributors to premature illness, death and health care costs locally and nationwide. These federal stimulus dollars (part of the Communities Putting Prevention to Work program) provide one-time funding for policy, systems and environmental changes by local community agencies, schools, businesses and governments. Examples of grant activities include supporting corner stores in offering more healthy options, providing healthier foods in schools, and restricting tobacco marketing.


Interested in applying for funds?

Public Health will conduct a Request for Proposals process and award grants to school districts, local governments, and community organizations. Letters of Intent are due April 14; please visit the program Web site for more information. Submitting a Letter of Intent is strongly encouraged (and earns an additional 10% in the rating process and makes an organization eligible for technical assistance). New job opportunities related to tobacco and obesity prevention grants will be available over the next several weeks. Positions are posted on this Web site. If you have any questions or comments, e-mail

Domestic violence advocacy services launched

New Beginnings logoThe community-based agency New Beginnings launched a program in March called Access to Advocacy, which allows non-English/Spanish-speaking women to call a toll-free 1-888-number, speak to domestic violence advocates and gain access to a full range of domestic violence services and information in their language. Access to Advocacy enhances the existing toll-free Peace in the Home Helpline for non-English speaking women that currently connects callers to services and information in 14 languages. Through Access to Advocacy, Spanish-speaking callers calling the Peace in the Home Helpline connect directly to an advocate who screens the caller and refers them to appropriate services at one of five agencies in King County.

Citizenship helps immigrants, refugees stabilize lives


Nga To, son Kenny, and tutor Carl Shutoff
Nga To and tutor
Most of us take citizenship for granted but for many families it is vital to a family's stability and economic well-being. Originally from Vietnam, Nga To
 needed to become a citizen in order to keep her job at the Veterans Administration (VA) Hospital. Employees at federal agencies like the VA must be U.S. citizens. She was also working on getting her GED. Balancing school, work, and child care needs, Nga was not able to attend regular citizenship classes at Literacy Source, a City-funded agency. She was matched with a volunteer tutor, Carl Shutoff, receiving one-on-one instruction at her home, allowing her to focus on her goal of naturalization. Thanks to the in-home citizenship instruction, Nga became a citizen recently and continues to work at the VA. For more information, visit the Web site for the Human Services Department's New Citizen Initiative.

Youth attend conference to prep for college


Twelve youth from the Seattle Human Services Department's Upward Bound and Seattle Youth Employment Program (SYEP) attended the Visionaries Inspiring Black Empowered Students Conference at Washington State University earlier this year. The conference hosted 190 high school students of color, primarily African American, from around the state. The students attended workshops covering topics such as financial aid, college admission, empowerment/motivation, and drug and alcohol awareness. Three students (two from SYEP and one from Upward Bound) received Outstanding Participation Awards. Check out this cool video!


Food bank remodel completed


JFS WarehouseThe renovation of the food bank at Jewish Family Service on Capitol Hill is now complete, and the agency held a grand opening on March 7. This project was funded by the Seattle Human Services Department with $500,000 in Community Development Block Grant stimulus funds.

Funding for homeless women


The Seattle Human Services Department has

completed a Request for Investment process to allocate $100,000 for the Shelter and/or Day Center Program for Homeless Women. The department received six proposals totaling $442,236. Receiving awards are YWCA/Angeline's Day Center and Shelter ($70,000) and Church of Mary Magdalene/Mary's Place ($30,000). Services will be funded for a year from March 15, 2010.

High efficiency toilets for low-income homeowners


High efficieny toiletsThe Mayor's Office for Senior Citizens' Utility Assistance Programs staff are collaborating with Seattle Public Utilities and Senior Services' Minor Home Repair to help low-income homeowners of all ages replace older toilets with new high-efficiency models for free. Income eligibility recently increased so more Seattle families will be able to save water and money. Replacement of two inefficient toilets can save a family of four up to 24,000 gallons of water and $140 each year. For more information, please see this news release.

Older Americans Month honors elders


Older Americans Month logoSince 1963, the president and federal Administration on Aging have designated May as Older Americans Month. The celebration is a time to honor the legacies and ongoing contributions of elders. This year's theme - Age Strong! Live Long! - recognizes their diversity and vitality, the new technologies they pioneered, and the cultural revolution they spearheaded. The Mayor's Office for Senior Citizens, Seattle Parks and Recreation Lifelong Recreation, and other City offices have organized a variety of events and activities in May, designed to get older adults moving and connected while recognizing their continuing contributions to our community. Among the events is a free Healthy Aging Fair on Wednesday, May 26, that provides information on

wellness, disease prevention and fitness as well as free hearing tests, blood pressure checks and other health screenings. For more information, call 206-684-0500 or e-mail

2010 'Where to Turn' directories available


The Crisis Clinic's "Where to Turn" directories provide up-to-date information about social and health resources in King County.

Visit this page
to download an order form.

Find the latest news on the HSD blog!


HSD blog heading


The Seattle Human Services Department has a new blog called Human Interests. It's part of a collection of City department blogs - CityLink - and provides timely updates about human services programs, services and events. Check it out today!

In This Issue
Race & Social Justice
Seeking New Director
PeoplePoint Star
$25.5M Health Grant
Homeless Youth Aided
Benefits of Citizenship
Prepping for College
Food Bank Remodel
Helping Homeless Women
High Efficiency Toilets
Older Americans Month
'Where to Turn'
HSD Blog
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Contact Information
Life Lines is published by the City of Seattle's Human Services Department (HSD). The mission of the department is to connect people with resources and solutions during times of need so we can all live, learn, work and take part in strong, healthy communities. We welcome your comments. Visit us on the Web for more information. For more timely or breaking news visit our new blog, Human Interests. If you have questions, please contact David Takami, HSD, at or 206-684-0253.