Life Lines

May 2011

Reaching out to immigrant and refugee communities 

Dannette R. Smith


Mayor McGinn said it best in his opening remarks to a crowded room in Van Asselt Community Center: "Seattle should be a place where everyone has the opportunity to succeed."


Gathered there one evening last month, were more than 100 individuals and families from Seattle's refugee and immigrant communities to learn more about the City's Youth & Families Initiative (YFI) and to provide feedback on the Seattle Human Services Department's (HSD's) Strategic Plan: Healthy Communities, Healthy Families.


I joined the Mayor and other City staff in relaying information about the Initiative and the closely related renewal of the Families & Education Levy. There was a definite "buzz" in the air as interpreters provided simultaneous translation of our words into nine non-English languages. I think there was also genuine excitement and interest in providing needed services to children and families in these communities. Many audience members had participated in the "Kids and Families Congress," held last year at Seattle Center, which helped refine and prioritize previous public input on YFI.


YFI public meetingMostly we were there to listen and learn. In smaller discussion groups, we posed questions about how HSD and the City can best serve community members. The responses to these questions will provide invaluable input as we develop and implement our Strategic Plan.


The Mayor stressed that the City is looking closely at how we are spending public dollars on children and families and whether these investments align with what we've heard people need.


Dannette R. Smith
Director, Seattle Human Services Department
 Hundreds participate in 'charrette' meetings on homeless response 

In late April, the Committee to End Homelessness (CEH) hosted a lively and well-attended two-day planning "charrette" at the Tukwila Community Center to review the Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness at its mid-way point. Six topics were explored: Performance Measures/Accountability, Homeless Youth/Young Adults, Systems Level Prevention, Emergency Housing for Single Adults, Political Will, and Immigrant/Refugee Communities. Each session opened with a guided discussion by a panel of national and local experts, followed by audience comments and dialog. A total of 400 people attended over the two-day period. In the session on Emergency Housing--as an example of the kinds of discussions at the charrette--human services leaders from Portland, Chicago and New York spoke about innovative strategies to ending homelessness involving huge shifts in how public dollars are invested. Charrette organizers are on a fast track to synthesize information and comments, draft recommendations, and present final recommendations to the CEH Governing Board and Interagency Council in May. These will be incorporated into a final Mid-Plan Review Report soon afterwards. For additional background, please see this Web site.

New school-based health center chosen
The City of Seattle announced in April that International Community Health Services has been selected to be the lead agency in developing and operating the City's newest school-based health center at the Secondary Bilingual Orientation Center, a school for 6th to 12th grade immigrant and refugee students. Funding for the clinic was recommended by Mayor Mike McGinn using money from the City's Families & Education Levy, approved by voters in 2004. In December 2010, the City Council voted unanimously to allocate funds to operate the health center through the duration of the current Levy. International Community Health Services is a Seattle-based nonprofit community health center that has served immigrant and refugee communities for more than 35 years. School-based health centers provide primary medical care and behavioral health services for students at Seattle's 10 large public high schools and four middle schools, helping students to stay in school and succeed academically. Click here for more information.
Seniors benefit from locally grown produce

Peaches produceAh, fresh produce! The King County Senior Farmers Market Voucher Program provides fresh fruit and vegetables to lower-income seniors and supports local farming by increasing the use of farmers markets, roadside stands, and community-supported agriculture. If you or someone you know meets age and income requirements, complete, sign and postmark an application before May 27. If there are more applicants than vouchers available, a random selection process will be used to determine who receives the vouchers. Applications are available in 11 languages.

Report released on cost of living for elderly

A recently released report, the Elder Economic Security Standard Index, analyzes the cost of living for elders in Washington state, and the news isn't encouraging. Among the findings: one-fifth of seniors living alone in King County receive only Social Security income. Even for elders who have paid off their mortgages, Social Security income falls far short of their basic needs expenses, which range from $19,944 for a single person to $29,460 for a couple. For elders who have rent and mortgage expenses, the gap between income and expenses is even greater, yet Social Security income typically disqualifies the elders from most state assistance programs. The report highlights the importance of services funded by the state Senior Citizens Service Act to help narrow the income/expense gap. Seattle Human Services Department's Aging and Disability Services' Advisory Council members shared the report with legislators on a visit to Olympia in late March.

Get wired with computer classes for seniors 

computers seniorsWant to learn how to use the World Wide Web, e-mail friends, and draft basic Word documents? The Mayor's Office for Senior Citizens' Seniors Training Seniors computer classes may be for you. Seniors Training Seniors Technology Program offers unique computer classes for adults 50+ at sites throughout Seattle. Small class sizes of three to six seniors are taught by trained volunteer instructors in a safe and relaxed atmosphere. Each person learns at his or her own pace. Most classes cost between $10 and $15 per person. Classes include basic computer Introduction skills, advanced e-mail skills, Microsoft Word and photo editing. For more information on class locations and schedules, please contact Patti-lyn Bell, Seattle Human Services Department, Mayor's Office for Senior Citizens, at 206-684-0639 or

Program helps reduce health care costs

The Center for Healthcare Improvement for Addictions, Mental Illness and Medically Vulnerable Populations released early promising results from a study of the Seattle Human Services Department's King County Care Partners (KCCP) program, administered by HSD's Aging and Disability Services. KCCP registered nurses and social workers provide up to 12 months of care management services to Medicaid fee-for-service adults at high risk of emergency department use and hospitalization. Relative to a comparison group, the KCCP group had significantly: (1) lower psychiatric inpatient costs, (2) fewer total arrests and charges, (3) higher odds of receiving inpatient alcohol/drug treatment, and (4) higher alcohol/drug treatment costs. The study concludes that intensive care management may benefit high-cost Medicaid clients and the state through reduced psychiatric inpatient costs, reduced criminal justice activity, and improved access to alcohol/drug treatment.


Spanish-language outreach for HSD Strategic Plan 
spanish radio

Dannette Smith and Flor Alarcon Avendano 

In late March, Seattle Human Services Department (HSD) Director Dannette Smith appeared on the Spanish-language radio station KKMO (1360 AM) with HSD staff member Flor Alarcon Avendano, who acted as an interpreter during a presentation of the department's draft Strategic Plan and subsequent call-in segment. During the call-in period, listeners inquired about services such as citizenship classes, after-school programs, job training, housing assistance and health services.

Seeking sites for summer food program 

The Seattle Human Services Department is seeking sites for its Summer Food Service Program. The program will be offered again this summer from Monday, June 27th to Friday, August 26th 2011. The program provides no-cost breakfasts, lunches and snacks for children and youth ages 1 through 18. The meals are served to children at approved sites where at least half the children are eligible for free or reduced-price school lunches. For information about eligibility please click here. To apply, an agency must complete and return an application form as soon as possible. The City will screen applications to ensure the availability of food wherever concentrations of eligible young people live. For more information, please contact Javier Pulido, Program Coordinator, Seattle Human Services Department, at 206-386-1140 or 

FREE water-saving toilets for low-income home owners

Free toiletsSave water and money with free high-efficiency toilet for qualifying city residents. Toilets offered by Seattle Public Utilities flush well, help conserve water, and save homeowners money. Replacement of older toilets with high-efficiency models can save a family of four up to 24,000 gallons of water and $140 each year. If you meet the following criteria and income guidelines, you can qualify for free toilets and installation:

 You are a homeowner of any age with a Seattle Public Utilities account.

 You currently live in the home you own.

 Your existing toilets were manufactured before 1994.

 You meet income guidelines for your household size.


The Seattle Human Services Department's Mayor's Office for Senior Citizens is partnering with Seattle Public Utilities and Senior Services' Minor Home Repair program on this program. To sign up or for more information, please contact Minor Home Repair at 206-448-5751 (TTY 206-448-5025) or

Citzenship ceremony

New citizensSeattle Human Services Department Director Dannette Smith attended a naturalization ceremony at the Seattle Public Library on April 12th with 85 new U.S. citizens, immigrants or refugees who came from 28 countries from all over the world. In 2010,


HSD's citizenship program assisted 1,123 people with citizenship applications and helped 786 individuals become U.S. citizens.

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.

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