Life Lines
SPECIAL EDITION                                                                                              January 28, 2011
Important information about HSD realignment

Dannette R. Smith


I wanted to share with you some exciting news about important structural changes we are undertaking at the Seattle Human Services Department (HSD). I apologize for the delay in communicating these changes to you - my first priority was to inform my staff of these decisions and talk to affected employees.


Since joining HSD in July of 2010, I've conducted an in-depth assessment of both the programs and infrastructure in the department. Information obtained from internal meetings with HSD divisions, community contractors, HSD partners, and community members have all contributed to deciding what structural changes are necessary. I received feedback from many of you and other stakeholders that while HSD supports a number of important services, the department's structure, approach and contract administration present challenges when responding to constituents with multiple needs. 


In September, HSD employees began developing a high-level strategic plan for the department, "Healthy Communities, Healthy Families." The plan highlights a need to realign our internal structure to increase effectiveness and to facilitate a holistic, integrated approach to human service programming and delivery. 


The new structure builds upon the wealth of talent and expertise that exists within the organization. By realigning our internal resources, we will be better positioned to provide constituents a full range of program offerings in a more coordinated and efficient manner. Recognizing that a family's path to self-sufficiency can involve a variety of needs including child-care assistance, domestic violence intervention, and a need for stable housing, our new structure supports cross-program collaboration and provides additional focus on improving contracting practices and our ability to measure program success.


I want to stress that we remain as committed as ever to serving the most vulnerable people in the community, including the homeless people, victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, immigrants and refugees, seniors and persons with disabilities, families with young children, and young people. I believe this new structure will enhance our efforts by creating a comprehensive, coordinated and community-based approach to address the complexity of family issues. At this stage we are realigning our areas of service. 2011 contracts and funding will not be affected.


The key elements of the realignment are as follows:


      Beginning on March 1, 2011, the work of former divisions including Youth Development & Achievement, Early Learning & Family Support, and Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Prevention will be restructured to become two divisions: the Community Support & Self-Sufficiency Division and Youth & Family Empowerment Division. The Community Support & Self-Sufficiency Division will encompass all of HSD's programs that assist individuals and families as they work toward self-sufficiency. The Youth & Family Empowerment Division will take a more holistic approach to providing services from early childhood to young adulthood, including paths to post-secondary training - college, vocational training, apprenticeships into skilled trades, or other employment. These two divisions will report to the Deputy Director. 


      The Fiscal & Contract Management units have been joined under one Director who will be responsible for developing best-practice contract development, monitoring and Request for Investment (RFI) processes, and support the department's objectives for fiscal responsibility and efficiency with processing.


       A Data Integrity Unit has been created and will be led by a Director. This area will lead the work of establishing department-wide data standards, measuring organizational performance, and providing the data necessary to inform future investments.


Assessments for the Homelessness Intervention & Block Grant Administration Division and the Aging & Disability Services Division will occur later this year. However, units from both divisions will be moving to other parts of the organization. The Mayor's Office for Senior Citizens (MOSC) will now reside in the Community Support & Self-Sufficiency Division. Safe Harbors and Information Technology (IT) will become a part of the Data Integrity Unit.


I will be meeting with domestic violence advocates next Thursday, February 3, 2011 at noon to discuss the realignment. I also want to invite anyone else who is interested in discussing the changes to one of the following meetings in my office on the 58th floor of the Seattle Municipal Tower, 700 Fifth Avenue:


         Thursday, February 3, 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

         Monday, February 7, 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

         Tuesday, February 8, noon to 1 p.m.


For a copy of the new organization chart click here. Click here for job announcements for the Deputy Director and Division Director positions. The Director of Data Integrity position will be posted in the next few days. All positions will be filled through a competitive and transparent hiring process. Please help us spread the word!


I greatly value your input and partnership. Thank you for all that you do for the community. If you have questions, please feel free to contact me directly at (206) 684-0263.


Dannette R. Smith
Director, Seattle Human Services Department
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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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