Life Lines
January 2011
Community partnerships key to moving forward
 

Dannette R. SmithHappy New Year!

 

Although our mission and vision for serving our community's most vulnerable residents has not changed, all of us - government, nonprofits, and service providers - are having to do more with less. I wanted to share with you an example of how we can move forward together in these challenging times.

 

When the state eliminated funding for its naturalization program last fall, local immigrants and refugees receiving services through the Seattle Human Services Department's (HSD's) New Citizen Program (NCP) faced tremendous uncertainty. Because 67% of NCP's budget is supported by state funding, the $1.7 million annual budget for the program was reduced by $1.1 million.

 

HSD staff acted quickly to develop two options for providing citizenship services in 2011 with the reduced funding amount of $547,000. NCP agencies and members of the City's Immigrant and Refugee Advisory Committee were invited to two community meetings to help determine how the department should move forward. About 30 people attended each of the discussions, which I was happy to facilitate.

 

From the outset, our aim was to be as transparent as possible and to engage the community in the decision-making process from start to finish. Our focus was on preserving naturalization services, particularly for low-income residents and for vulnerable community members, including families with young children, seniors, and domestic violence victims. Comments from the first meeting were used to develop a third option which we shared at the second meeting. In the end, all in attendance agreed with the third option, which included a combination of 10 large and small contracts designed to serve the diverse needs of Seattle's immigrant and refugee community.

 

I think this is a great model of how HSD can work with the community. By being transparent and engaging stakeholders early on in the process we can build even stronger and more successful community partnerships.

 

Dannette R. Smith
Director, Seattle Human Services Department
 
HSD Strategic Plan

Seattle Human Services Department (HSD) staff continue to work hard on drafting a strategic plan for the department, "Healthy Communities, Healthy Families." We will share more about the plan and opportunities for community review and comment in upcoming newsletters and in the HSD blog "Human Interests."

State budget impacts on human services

Capitol buildingThe budget news from Olympia continues to be grim. In mid-December last year, Governor Christine Gregoire proposed two budgets that, if approved, will slash the safety net for children and families in the state. The Governor released her proposed supplemental budget on Dec. 17, which closes a projected $1.1 billion deficit for the remainder of the biennium (through June 2011). This came shortly after release of her proposed 2011-2013 biennial budget, which closes a projected two-year gap of $4.6 billion.

 

Proposed cuts also come on top of $110 million of "across the board" spending cuts proposed earlier in the fall, which included elimination of state funding for naturalization services for immigrants and refugees. Proposed budget actions include:

         Elimination of Disability Lifeline cash grants and medical assistance. The program, formerly known as General Assistance, provides cash and medical assistance to people unable to work and not eligible for federal support.

         Elimination of the Basic Health Plan, which provides subsidized medical insurance to thousands of individuals statewide.

         Elimination of the Children's Health Program, which serves documented and undocumented children.

         Changes to eligibility for the Working Connections Child Care Program, which mean far fewer low-income families will qualify for state child care subsidy.

         Reduction of in-home personal care hours for seniors and people with disabilities.

 

Legislators started their 105-day session on Jan. 10, 2011, and leaders in both the House and Senate will present their own budget proposals. Some legislative leaders have already indicated support for adding back some of the cuts.

Bush Hotel meal space renovation begins

Bush Hotel constructionRenovation work on the Congregate Meal Program space in the Bush Hotel in the International District is now under way.

 

With $316,000 in Community Facilities Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and CDBG-R (federal stimulus) funding from the City, Seattle Chinatown International District Public Development Authority (SCIDPDA) will renovate this space which is occupied by its congregate meal program for low-income seniors.

 

Construction is expected to be completed by the end of March 2011.

 

Elder abuse and domestic violence

An elderly man named Norman had been physically abused and financially exploited by his two adult sons who lived in his home. Norman was reluctant to do anything that might send his sons to jail. He didn't know where to turn to for help; he just wanted the abuse to stop and to be able to live in his own home.

 

Using the story of Norman as an example, participants in a workshop on Dec. 13 in Seattle explored the similarities between domestic violence and elder abuse. Much like domestic violence, elder abuse is physical, sexual, or emotional abuse of anyone 60 or older. Elder abuse also often involves financial exploitation and/or neglect. The abuser may be an intimate partner, a family member or household member such as an adult child, or a caregiver. The victim often has an ongoing relationship with the abuser, and this relationship includes an expectation of trust.

 

The workshop contributed to an ongoing community discussion about services that are available for older victims of abuse and how service providers can and should respond to elder abuse. The workshop was jointly sponsored by the Seattle Human Services Department's Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention Division, the King County Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and the King County Elder Abuse Council.

Protecting prostituted youth

A local newspaper and an upcoming community forum highlight the issue of prostituted youth:

 

         An editorial in the Seattle Times on Dec. 31, 2010 "underscore[d] the need for police, courts and prosecutors to do a better job protecting teen prostitutes."

         A Town Hall Forum on "Trafficking of Local Girls" will be held on Jan. 20, 2011. Participants will learn more about the growing tragedy of sex trafficking, what is being done about it, and how you can make a difference to support young trafficking survivors, increase prosecution of traffickers, and curb the demand.

Let's Move! campaign in Seattle

VegetablesStarted by First Lady Michelle Obama, the Let's Move! campaign has an ambitious national goal of solving the challenge of childhood obesity within a generation so that children born today will reach adulthood at a healthy weight. The Seattle Human Services Department (HSD) is participating in several ways, including two projects that are funded by Public Health - Seattle & King County with federal funding through a grant from Community Putting Prevention to Work (through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention):

         Create Healthy Schools, a project toimprove nutrition and increase physical activity for 12,000 children and youth at child care and after-school programs.

         Farm to Table program, to make healthy foods affordable for senior congregate and home-delivered meal programs and child care centers by cooperatively purchasing fresh produce directly from local farmers; this program is run by HSD's Aging and Disability Services division.

In addition, in December 2010, HSD's Seattle Youth Employment Program (SYEP) offered a workshop for youth participants focusing on healthy eating and nutrition tips for teens. SYEP will offer another "Healthy Eating" workshop for youth in March 2011.

 

For more information on Let's Move! visit the project Web site.
RFQ for state-funded home care services

The Seattle Human Services Department's (HSD) Aging and Disability Services division (ADS) is offering nonprofit or for-profit organizations an opportunity to submit a Request for Qualification (RFQ) application to provide Community Options Program Entry System (COPES) and Medicaid Personal Care (MPC) in-home services for the care of medically frail and/or disabled persons throughout King County.The COPES and MPC in-home care services are administered by the state Department of Social & Health Services Aging and Disability Services Administration and Division of Developmental Disabilities, and managed by ADS. Contract awards will be made for the period of July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012.

 

An information session will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2011, 10 a.m. to noon, 2100 Building, 2100  24th Avenue South, Seattle, WA  98144. The application deadline is Tuesday, February 22, 2011.

 

For more information, please contact Tamsen Spengler, ADS, at 206-684-0696 or tamsen.spengler@seattle.gov.

 

Seeking proposals for school-based health center

Public Health - Seattle & King County has released a Request for Proposals to organizations interested in serving as the sponsor for the school-based health center at the Seattle Public Schools Secondary Bilingual Orientation Center. Proposals are due on Feb. 22, 2011.

 

The project is being funded by the Seattle Families and Education Levy to support academic achievement and student health. Total funding available is $132,000 from March to August 2011 and $302,400 from September 2011 to August 2012. Funding may be available in future periods pending levy renewal.

 

For more information, please contact Jessica Knaster at 206-263-8350 or jessica.knaster@kingcounty.gov.

Study: TV watching in infancy impairs learning
 

Baby watching screenA new study finds TV watching in infancy is associated with lower cognitive development.

 

See this article by Paul Nyhan for details.

 

In a study of 259 families researchers found that babies who regularly watched TV had lower scores on cognitive and language tests at 14 months, U.S. News & World Report says.

 

 

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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.

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