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October 2011

Dannette R. SmithOne year on the job
I can hardly believe it's been one year since I began as Human Services Department Director. The past 12 months have been a whirlwind of activity and change, and while it is difficult to summarize all that has been going on, I thought I'd share a few thoughts and highlights.

Coming to a new city and a new workplace has been a challenging but exhilarating experience. I'm honored by the opportunity to serve the people of Seattle and thankful to work with talented staff and community members who are highly engaged and informed.

As a newcomer to this region, I spent my first few months listening and learning and getting to know the community - both our familiar partners and ones who were less well known, including underserved communities, such as immigrants and refugees, and smaller, community-based agencies. Last fall, I met with nearly all of our community providers, with our partners in government (county, state and federal), the School District, and fellow funding agencies.

The highlight of the latter part of 2010 was the development of our Strategic Plan, "Healthy Families, Healthy Communities," which focused on creating a more proactive service system, strengthening and expanding partnerships, engaging with the community, and using data and evaluation to strengthen services and make funding decisions. It also envisioned a human services system that is more community-based and family-centered.

Now that the Strategic Plan framework is complete, the real work has begun, and I'm excited about the early planning for our "Future State" - building an infrastructure to support implementation of the plan. As you've heard in this space before, this includes centralizing and standardizing our contracting and Request for Investment processes and improving the collection and analysis of data to help guide future investment.

All things considered, it has been an extraordinary year. Despite the bumps in the road and an extremely challenging budget environment, I couldn't be more pleased with our progress to date, and how we are proceeding in a thoughtful and systematic way, while keeping a laser focus on improving services to Seattle's most vulnerable residents.
Dannette R. Smith
Director, Seattle Human Services Department


More on HSD and the Mayor's Budget

Mayor and CouncilIn presenting his 2012 Proposed Budget to City Council last Monday (September 26th), Mayor McGinn spoke about a new way of doing business focusing on outcomes and accountability, with specific mention of the Human Services Department.

"We are changing the way we manage and structure Human Services Department contracts to be focused on outcomes," the Mayor said. "Under the leadership of Dannette Smith, we are restructuring the department and our contracts to a new model. An investor model. The investor model is based on results. HSD will work with service providers to achieve good outcomes - and provide oversight to show whether they're being met. If they're not being met, we will reevaluate our approach and put that funding into programs that are proven to work."

Although HSD has collected outcome data in the past, the new investor model calls for the department to work more closely with agencies to provide technical assistance, more intensive monitoring of contracts, and support for meeting their outcomes.

Mayor McGinn also mentioned HSD as a partner in the pilot project to measure third grade reading achievement at Northgate Elementary School, and the department's collaboration with Seattle Police, Seattle Municipal Court, City Budget Office and housing providers to address public safety concerns in the Belltown neighborhood. For more information about the Mayor's budget, visit this Web page

HSD contracts must be signed by Jan. 1
Community agencies with contracts with the Human Services Department should have received a letter describing changes in completing contracts that are scheduled to begin in January 2012. You should be receiving an award letter and information packet soon. As in years past, allocations from the City's General Fund are contingent on final approval of the City of Seattle budget by the City Council in late November 2011. In the interest of efficiency and the desire to provide timely services to the community, all contracts must be executed (signed by both parties) by January 1, 2012. Agencies will not be paid without a signed contract. Overall there will be almost no changes to dollar amounts of contracts or to outcomes. Next year, you will see more substantial changes to the contracting process and document structure. If you have questions about contracting, please contact Sara Levin, Human Services Department, at
Census: Poverty on the rise
Census logoRecently released U.S. Census data through the American Community Survey showed a significant increase in the poverty rate in Seattle in 2010. The data also provides a breakdown of poverty by race and ethnicity showing disproportionate poverty particularly among African Americans and Latinos. For more information, please see this data summary.
Sign up for City benefits on Washington Connection

washington connectionPeople living in the greater Seattle area can now apply for City benefits on the state's electronic benefit portal called Washington Connection. As of August 23rd, the Human Services Department's PeoplePoint staff have been receiving electronic benefit applications via the state portal. People can now apply for nine City benefits, as well as state benefits, all in one place, entering their information once. In the first 30 days staff received applications from 719 households with most applying for two or more City benefits.

In addition, with a federal ARRA grant, HSD has contracted with 39 community-based organizations to help their clients and community members apply for benefits via Washington Connection. PeoplePoint staff are also training City staff in Libraries, Aging & Disability Services division, Parks community centers, and Neighborhood Service Centers.  

PEARLS program wins award

PEARLS logoThe University of Washington Health Promotion Research Center (HPRC) researchers and community partners, including Seattle Human Services Department's Aging & Disabilities Services division (ADS), have been selected as the winner of the 2011 Archstone Foundation Award for Excellence in Program Innovation for the PEARLS program--Program to Encourage Active and Rewarding Lives for Seniors.

PEARLS is a home-based depression management program developed collaboratively by HPRC and ADS. The program includes 19 weeks of home visits for problem-solving therapy, behavioral activation, and pleasant events scheduling; six months of brief, monthly, follow-up phone calls; and clinical oversight by a psychiatrist at depression management team sessions. PEARLS has demonstrated effectiveness with older adults and people with epilepsy. To learn more about PEARLS, visit this Web site. Dr. Mark Snowden will receive the award on behalf of PEARLS at the 139th American Public Health Association (APHA) Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, in November. 

National report recognizes Seattle after-school program
NLC logoSeattle was one of 27 cities showcased in "Municipal Leadership for Afterschool:  Citywide Approaches Spreading Across the Country," a new report from the National League of Cities Institute for Children, Youth and Families with funding provided by the Wallace Foundation.  Seattle and 26 other cities were described as reaching an "advanced stage" in developing citywide out-of-school time systems. For more information see this Web site or contact Kathleen Groshong, Human Services Department, at or 206-684-0520.
New school-based child care programs open
Five new child care programs opened on-site in Seattle Public Schools in September, 2011. New providers include Kids Company at John Muir and Queen Anne Elementary Schools; LASER at Sand Point Elementary; Causey's Learning Center at Van Asselt Elementary and Creative Kids Learning Center at Viewlands Elementary. Human Services Department (HSD) staff provided support to the school district's selection process. Providers are contracted with HSD's Child Care Assistance Program to offer low-income working families access to HSD child care subsidies while also meeting a higher level of quality than state licensing requirements. For more information, please contact Kathleen Groshong. Human Services Department at or 206-684-0520.
Take Winter by Storm: Be prepared!
TWBS logoAre you ready for winter weather? The City of Seattle and a number of other regional governments, utilities and businesses are asking people to get prepared for winter storms before they hit our area. Called Take Winter by Storm, the campaign includes TV ads, public events, special sales and discounts. It even includes a contest featuring a grand prize trip for four to Hawaii. The campaign is designed to encourage people to prepare for windstorms and power outages, snow, ice and freezing temperatures, as well as flooding and landslides by giving people tips on how to prepare and be ready. Go to this Web site for more information and helpful easy-to-use resources.
Oct. 25th disaster forum for human services organizations
Recent high profile disasters have called attention to the critical role human service organizations have in a disaster. On October 25th from 1:30 to 4 p.m., agencies are invited to a forum to explore the role local human services organizations have in a disaster, how this intersects with the government emergency management response, and what resources may be available during an event. The forum will be held at the Yesler Community Center at 917 E Yesler Way. For more information please contact Jill Watson, Human Services Department,, or 206-684-7788, or contact Robin Pfohman, Public Health - Seattle & King County, or 206-263-8759.
Request for Investment for refugee youth released soon
A Request for Investments (RFI) for Integrated Job Readiness Training for Immigrant/Refugee Youth & Families is scheduled to be released on Thursday, Oct. 13th. The RFI provides targets immigrant/refugee youth, ages 15-20, with limited English skills and their families who speak Amharic, Chinese, Filipino, Somali, Spanish, Tigrinya, or Vietnamese. The services will include job readiness training classes, case management and paid summer employment for youth, parent education classes and family support services, and family self-sufficiency and career planning workshops for both youth and their parents.
Learn how to get out of debt

The October Senior Coffee Hour will feature information and discussion about credit card debt and financial planning. Sponsored by the Mayor's Office for Senior Citizens, the next Coffee Hour will be held on Thursday, October 20, 2011, 10 to 11 a.m., at the Central Building, 810 3rd Avenue, 4th Floor, Seattle 98104 (between Columbia and Marion streets in downtown Seattle). Alice Coday, a Project Manager for the Seattle King County Asset Building Collaborative, will talk about credit card debt. Joe Hebert is a Certified Financial Planner at trueNorth Financial Services and will discuss financial risks and securing your financial future.


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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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