Life Lines
November 2010
Meeting with human services providers, community

Dannette R. SmithI have been meeting with many agency leaders and community members over the past few weeks, and I continue to be greatly impressed by the level of caring, knowledge and engagement in the city of Seattle.


I've had four meetings so far with agencies that contract with the Seattle Human Services Department (HSD). About 100 providers have attended from agencies that serve homeless people, children, youth, seniors, persons with disabilities and domestic violence victims. I spent the first half of each meeting providing an overview of HSD's organization and funding, mission and values, and our major initiatives, such as ending homelessness, early learning and family support, and healthy aging.


I conveyed my observations of community and department strengths and outlined where we are headed as a human services agency. Providers raised concerns about emerging issues such as a growing number of young people, immigrants and refugees who are facing homelessness, continued youth violence related to gang activity, the need to serve American-born youth and families as well as recent arrivals, and the question of what "healthy aging" will look like for elders in the baby boom generation.


I've also held several meetings with local ethnic communities, including the Asian, Asian American, and East African communities, to learn about their human services needs. Most recently, I met with community-based agencies that assist immigrants and refugees in becoming naturalized U.S. citizens in the wake of the elimination of state funding for these programs.


The community discussions point to the need to assess HSD infrastructure and contracts as a necessary first step to better serve the diverse needs of residents. Moving forward, we are starting a strategic planning process that will assess our current organization and provide a road map as we envision a seamless, family-centered approach to the delivery of human services to citizens of Seattle.


I will share more about the strategic plan in the next newsletter.

Dannette R. Smith
Director, Seattle Human Services Department
The Bridge Program helps prostituted youth

Several months into a pilot program to help prostituted teen-aged girls, one sign of the project's early success is that almost all of the young women are sticking with the program. "The most important thing is that they're staying and the feel very safe here," says Melinda Giovengo, YouthCare Executive Director.


The Seattle Human Services Department has contracted with YouthCare to deliver residential recovery services for the young people in a structured, home-like setting with comprehensive wraparound services, which include:

  • Comprehensive assessment of needs
  • On-site provision of mental health and chemical dependency services
  • Counseling for traumatic stress and trauma recovery
  • Survivor support groups
  • Health education and medical care
  • Life skills training
  • Support for GED or high school completion
  • Assistance in preparing for enrollment in post-secondary education
  • Job readiness training, employment placement, and internships


The Bridge Program will be evaluated to ensure that the services provided are working, and that the program has met its goal of helping program participants heal from abuse and achieve personal goals to reach their full potential. For much more information and background about this program, please visit the project Web page.

Mayor's End Hunger Awards honor 'hunger heroes'

Mayor's End Hunger Awards 2010Among the honorees at the Mayor's End Hunger Awards was a remarkable 13-year-old girl, Eliana Madwed, who has demonstrated that one person can make a big difference through simple, selfless acts. Eliana began volunteering at OPERATION: Sack Lunch with her school in 5th grade and has continued to volunteer over the past two years. Eliana celebrated her Bat Mitzvah in August and instead of gifts, she asked that friends and family make a donation to OPERATION: Sack Lunch to help people in need. Eliana's birthday wish has generated nearly $3,000 in donations so far. She is also making hundreds of fleece scarves and hats to donate during the cold winter months when they are most needed.


Five other "hunger heroes" chosen by food bank and meal program advocates were honored by Mayor Mike McGinn on Oct. 18 for their efforts to end hunger in our community. In addition to Eliana, the 2010 honorees were Sam Osborne - Rainier Valley Food Bank for Outstanding Food Bank Program Staff; Sharon Poole - Noel House Programs for Outstanding Meal Program Staff; Rachael Bigham - Ballard Food Bank Community Volunteer; Unified Grocers, Inc. for Food Bank Community Leader; and Brian Allen - ATS Automation for Meal Program Community Leader.


The Mayor's End Hunger Awards were initiated in 1986 by the U.S. Conference of Mayors to provide city mayors throughout the country an opportunity to publicly acknowledge local heroes in the fight against hunger and to promote community awareness and action in the struggle to provide food for all. This is the 19th year that Seattle has given out the awards. The event is sponsored by the Meals Partnership Coalition and the Seattle Food Committee.

New Human Services Director confirmed!

Dannette confirmationOn Monday, Oct. 11, the Seattle City Council unanimously confirmed Dannette R. Smith to be Director of the Seattle Human Services Department. A few minutes later, she was sworn in to office by Seattle City Clerk Monica Simmons. Here is a link to the Seattle Channel video. The proceedings begin at 1 minute 50 seconds into the video.


Congratulations Dannette!

Kindergarten readiness guidelines for preschools

SEEC logoWith the goal of better preparing young children for kindergarten, the Seattle Early Education Collaborative (SEEC) has developed a set of culturally and linguistically relevant kindergarten readiness guidelines for preschool teachers and administrators. The guidelines will help early learning professionals support children's development in five areas: 1) cognitive and general knowledge; 2) language, literacy and communication; 3) physical health, well-being, and motor development; 4) social and emotional development; and 5) approaches to learning.


Under the guidance of the Seattle Human Services Department's Early Learning and Family Support division, SEEC is a community collaborative of stakeholders and partners working together to create a shared vision for early learning in Seattle. Stakeholders and partners include Step Ahead and Early Childhood Education and Assistance programs and Head Start grantees. For more information on SEEC, please visit this Web site 

CIty Budget process continues

The Seattle City Council continues to review the Mayor's Proposed 2011-2012 Budget, including the budget for the Seattle Human Services Department (HSD). In the throes of the continuing recession, the City is faced with a $67 million budget deficit. The Mayor's Proposed Budget reduced HSD's budget by 5 percent while preserving most direct services. Council deliberations and decisions will conclude by the end of November. For more information on the Council process please visit this Web site.

Proposed state budget cuts affect poor, immigrants, refugees

Capitol buildingGovernor Christine Gregoire has requested a 6.3% across-the-board cut of all state agencies to address a $520 million deficit for the remainder of the 2009-2011 biennium. The Governor also asked agencies to present 10% cuts to reach $4.5 billion estimated shortfall for next biennium. This 10 percent reduction is not in addition to the 6.3% reductions; agencies will try to carry forward some of the 6.3% reductions into the next biennium.


Information to date shows that cuts will have a disproportionate impact on low-income families, children, and immigrants and refugees. Some of the cuts will be to

  • Services for immigrants and refugees that provide citizenship support, food assistance, and health care;
  • Services for seniors through the Senior Citizens Services Act; affected services may include access to transportation for homebound seniors, information and assistance, and day health;
  • Maternity support services for low-income women and children;
  • Financial assistance and medical support for homeless single adults; and
  • Public health assistance.

 For details, please visit this Web site.

Food and fitness programs for area seniors

Food and fitnessFood and Fitness is a great combination of healthy activities that serves a growing demographic in Seattle. It also is a good example of how recreation is being redefined.


Four years ago, Seattle Parks and Recreation's Lifelong Recreation staff and the Seattle Human Services Department's Aging and Disability Services established a partnership to provide congregate meals to diverse elder communities, while including creative ways to encourage people to be more physically active.


Parks' Lifelong Recreation Program currently supports five community Food and Fitness groups: Vietnamese, Korean, Somali, Ethiopian, and Samoan. Groups practice their traditional ways of eating while embracing a combined approach of activity, featuring Western recreation programming as well as that with which the groups are familiar. We have found as a starting point that most cultures dance and walk, and physical activity can start with these activities as a base.


This program gives the elders an opportunity to socialize with old and new friends who speak their native language and enjoy the same cultural activities. In addition to the nutritional program, elders enjoy physical activities such as dancing, ping pong and badminton and other physical exercise and activities.


For more information about the Food and Fitness program [] please contact Angela Smith at 206-233-7255 or

Recession impacts linger

United Way logoUnited Way of King County is tracking the impacts of the current recession on the local community and the latest update to its "Community Assessment" relates some sobering facts, including:

         Continuing high rate of unemployment;

         Increased demand for services;

         Increased home foreclosures; and

         Increased percentage of people in low-income households.


The update also shows that human services funding from governments at all levels is dwindling. For more information visit this Web site .

Immigrants and refugees: 'Two Paths'

Immigrants and refugeesIn this Seattle Channel video, both immigrants and refugees to the United States share their experiences entering and establishing their lives in a new country. The recent workshop, "Two Paths to America: The Immigrant & Refugee Experience," was organized by Seattle Human Services Department employees involved in the Race and Social Justice Initiative in collaboration with the City Personnel Department.


Panelists from SeaMar Community Health Centers, Refugee Women's Alliance, and Homeland Security discussed the issues related to immigrant and refugee experiences as influenced by history, policy, and social factors.


Nov. 18 workshop to help job-seeking seniors

Senior job program brochureJob seekers age 55 and older are invited to job search workshop on Thursday, Nov. 18, 10:30 a.m. to noon, at the Central Building, 810 3rd Ave., Seattle 98104.


Job counselors will be on hand to discuss job coaching, job-related computer classes, job lists, Web and other employment services available through the Mayor's Office for Senior Citizens. Eligible low-income job seekers will also learn about the Senior Community Service Employment Program.


For more information please call 206-684-0500, e-mail,or visit this Web site.

City Web site redesigned to improve access to services

seattle.govThe City of Seattle's main Web site has been redesigned to improve public access to City services. Upgrades include:

           Streamlining the interface to five portals, instead of nine;

           Improving access to information based on feedback from a usability study;

           An increased social media presence;

           More direct access to the most used city Web pages.

The City Web site includes more than 150,000 pages, the top 700 of which are linked to five main portals: Business in Seattle, Living in Seattle, Visiting Seattle, City Services, and City Departments. There are now 23 percent fewer links on the homepage - down 24 from 106.

For more information click here.

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