Life Lines
September 2010
Engaging with the community
Dannette R. SmithI've been in my new position for just over a month now, and it's been a wonderful and fascinating experience to learn about Seattle through its human services.
I'm achieving this in large part by actively engaging with the community. Among my site visits so far:
  • A healthy aging forum sponsored by the Mayor's Council on African American Elders;
  • A tour of low-income housing units renovated by the Plymouth Housing Group;
  • A new child care facility opening in the Chinook Building in downtown Seattle;
  • One of our Summer Food Service Program sites in Othello Park; and
  • A community discussion on the issue of prostituted youth.
All of these visits have been immensely informative and have served as an important reminder of the broad range and value of the work we do. I plan to make many more site visits in the weeks and months to come.
In addition, I have set up a series of meetings over the next two months with the executive directors of human services agencies that contract with our department. In particular, I want to learn from them and develop a good working relationship based on a shared vision for human services in the city of Seattle.
If you have suggestions for how I might continue engaging with the community please feel free to e-mail me at
Dannette R. Smith
Acting Director, Seattle Human Services Department
Preschool-to-3rd-grade plan
Photo by New School Foundation
The Seattle Human Services Department, Seattle Public Schools (SPS), the New School Foundation and National League of Cities (NLC), brought together 84 key leaders and stakeholders on Aug. 12 for a PreK to 3rd Grade Roundtable to learn about PreK-3rd strategies and comment on the City/SPS draft five-year plan. State agency leaders and U.S. Department of Education officials joined Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, SPS Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson and others in launching the effort to advance the goal of reading by 3rd grade (a benchmark listed in the Mayor's Youth and Families Initiative), and to decrease the achievement gap. Next steps are to incorporate comments and finalize the strategic plan, develop an implementation plan, determine costs, and seek additional funding. The implementation plan and budget work will tentatively be completed in the spring of 2011. Seattle is recognized by the NLC and Department of Education as one of the nationwide leaders in this effort.
Congressman McDermott visits summer food site
In early August, Congressman Jim McDermott visited the Summer Food Service Program site at Seattle's Pratt Park. McDermott is working in Congress to reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act which funds this program. The free-meal program is run by the Seattle Human Services Department at 100 community sites with annual funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Early reading program exceeds test goals
Early readers are getting a boost through the Seattle Early Reading First (SERF) program. In a recent assessment, the average score for all 12 SERF classrooms on the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT) was 106.17, far exceeding the U.S. Department of Education's goal of 85 and above. One girl, who entered a classroom at Seattle's Denise Louie Education Center two years ago with so little English she could not be assessed, scored 111 on the test. In the program's "youngest" classroom at the West Seattle YMCA, children had an average score of 118.37. The average age of these children was only three and a half. The Seattle Human Services Department's Early Learning & Family Support division oversees the federally funded SERF program.
Grants available for family caregivers
Respite careGrant money available in early 2011 will support the increasingly vital role of family caregivers. About 210,000 unpaid family caregivers live in King County. More than half of these informal caregivers provide care to persons over 65 years of age. About 20% of caregivers of elders spend more than 20 hours per week on caregiving.
Through state and federal funds, the Seattle Human Services Department's Aging and Disability Services division (ADS) contracts with nine agencies to provide Family Caregiver Support and Kinship Care programs in support of older adult caregivers. These programs provide many services including information, assistance, referrals, counseling, support groups, and training.
ADS will be issuing a Request for Investment (RFI) in January 2011. A little over $900,000 will be offered for Family Caregiver and Kinship Care programs, contingent on state and federal fund availability.
For more information about the RFI process, please e-mail Doug Ricker or call 206-684-0292. For more information about Family Caregiver Programs, e-mail Joan Ebenal or call 206-684-0641. For more information on Kinship Care Programs, e-mail Ginny Adams or call 206-684-0413.
(by Angela Miyamoto)
Sept. 17 DV forum focuses on housing, homelessness
Seattle City Council and Seattle Human Services Department's Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention division will jointly present "Through the Lens of Domestic Violence: A Look at Housing and Homelessness." The discussion will be held on Friday, Sept. 17, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., in the Seattle Central Library, 4th floor, Room #1, 1000 4th Ave., Seattle 98104. For more information, please e-mail Tan Mei Teo, Seattle Human Services Department or call 206-386-1036.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month
DV Awareness monthSeattle has a vision of becoming a community where domestic violence does not exist and people embrace nonviolence and mutual respect in all domestic relationships. In October, we are joining organizations across the country to recommit to making our homes and communities a safer place, free of domestic violence. This year, the Seattle Human Services Department, together with the King County Department of Community and Human Services, King County Women's Advisory Board, King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, and the Seattle City Attorney's Office will host a reception to honor the work of law enforcement officers and domestic violence agencies. The event will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m., in City Hall's Bertha Knight Landes Room. Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, King County Executive Dow Constantine, Seattle Police Chief John Diaz, King County Sheriff Sue Rahr, Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes and King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg will attend. For more information, please e-mail Tan Mei Teo, Seattle Human Services Department, or call 206-386-1036, or visit this Web site.
New child care center in downtown Seattle
Northwest Center CEO Tom Everill, Mayor McGinn, and County Councilmember Larry Gossett in the new center
Chinook Mayor
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and King County Executive Dow Constantine celebrated the completion of new child care space in King County's Chinook Building in late August. The City's Child Care Bonus Program, administered by the Seattle Human Services Department, contributed close to $1 million for design and construction of the facility. The center, which will be run by the Northwest Center, will set aside 20% of its slots over the next 20 years for low- or moderate-income families. The center will open its doors this fall. For more information, see this news release.
Citizen panel to review encampment policies
On Aug. 17, Mayor Mike McGinn announced the formation of a citizen review panel to make encampment policy recommendations to the Mayor's Office and the Seattle City Council. This group has been convened to provide recommendations on housing and services for Seattle's unsheltered homeless population that are sensitive to the changing economic climate and the City's ongoing budget realities. For details, see this news release.
Working with landlords to retain housing
A recent evaluation of the Landlord Liaison Project, a Committee to End Homelessness initiative jointly funded by King County, United Way and the Seattle Human Services Department, found that this project has increased access to existing rental units with 73 landlords/property managers signing on as partners; 39 service agencies or programs as partners; and more than 147 households placed into permanent housing. Virtually all of the households (96%) retained their housing six months after moving in. 
Journalists, students learn about family homelessness
Photo by Chris Taylor, Seattle University
Seattle U journalism students
Eight Seattle journalists went back to school this spring to learn about family homelessness in Washington state. Together with eight Seattle University students selected as research assistants, the fellows attended three day-long seminars during spring quarter and conducted independent research. Their in-depth news coverage began with a series of articles in the Seattle Times at the end of August. For more information, please visit the project Web site.
Grants offer recession relief
Grants of approximately $20,000-$50,000 are available to help organizations or communities using innovative strategies to support adults and families who are struggling in the current recession. The Seattle Foundation is part of a group of philanthropic organizations called the Building Resilience Initiative that was formed in late 2008. The group is working to help adults, families, organizations and communities cope with hardships and build strengths even in these tough times. The deadline for the Request for Proposals (RFP) is Nov. 1, 2010. For details, please see the complete RFP.
Volunteer for Day of Caring on Sept. 24 
United Way logoDo you want to make a lasting impact in our community? Join thousands of volunteers on United Way of King County's Day of Caring on Friday, Sept. 24. Choose from hundreds of rewarding projects: from sorting donations at a food bank or sprucing up a day care center, to clearing a hiking trail or painting rooms at a homeless shelter.
Project Cool for back to school 
For children dealing with the daily chaos of homelessness, school can be an important source of stability. Every fall, through Project Cool, the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness makes sure that hundreds of homeless children and youth in King County are ready to start the school year off right. In 2009, 2,000 young students (from preschoolers to high school seniors) received sturdy, new backpacks through Project Cool. Each backpack held new school supplies, reading books, a hygiene kit, a dictionary, and a voucher for a new pair of shoes. Though many of the backpacks have been distributed for the upcoming school year, Project Cool is still seeking donations. For more information, please visit the project Web site.
City of Seattle logo 

Life Lines is published monthly by the City of Seattle's Human Service Department. Our mission 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. For more timely or breaking news, visit our blog, Human Interests, or visit our Web site. If you have questions, please e-mail David Takami or call 206-684-0253.

Join Our Mailing List