DHS 2009-2011 Governor's Recommended Budget (GRB)
Letter from the Director
Contributions to the DHS mission
The mission of the Oregon Department of Human Services is to make it possible for people to lead lives that are independent, healthy and safe, and to provide economic stability in uncertain times. As the national recession deepens, the increased need for services continues to outpace available resources.
A crucial range of services
DHS provides direct services to more than 1 million Oregonians every year. These are the most vulnerable people in our society and people who are at difficult places in their lives and need temporary assistance. Our clients include seniors and people with disabilities, children who have been abused or neglected, people with mental illness or addictions, low-income families, unemployed workers, and others in need.
In addition to these direct services, our public health programs touch the lives of all Oregonians as well as visitors to this state. Public health activities ensure safe public drinking water, clean food preparation facilities, reduction of environmental health threats, acute and communicable disease prevention, oversight of hospitals and emergency services, and many other prevention-related programs that protect the health of all Oregonians.
Our staff and partners provide these services through more than 300 programs. Services are delivered out of 170 field offices located throughout the state, as well as through county health departments, area agencies on aging, group homes, the state hospital and other institutions, and many other partners. Putting all of these programs into one agency allows clients to more easily access the services they need.
Impact of economy on DHS
The need for DHS services is closely related to changes in Oregon’s economy. During the past year requests have grown dramatically for food stamps and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The number of people receiving food stamps benefits during December 2008 increased 15.5 percent statewide over December 2007, for a total of 520,650 people. Requests for TANF during December 2008 were 16.4 percent higher than those in December 2007, for a total of 21,633 families. The need is so great that DHS is operating under emergency status, redeploying staff to the areas of the state with the greatest need so we can take care of the many new clients coming through the door.
Federal Funds comprise approximately 60.5 percent of the DHS budget. These funds are leveraged by state investments. During the 2007-2009 biennium, DHS brought in $7 billion in Federal Funds, which in turn were spent in every corner of Oregon. In fact, little of DHS’s total budget stays in Salem – more than 82 percent is spent in local communities to pay for private-sector providers, mental health specialists, child care and home health care workers, foster parents, and other local providers. DHS spends, on average, $13 million per day in Oregon and accounts for fully one-third of the state’s Gross Domestic Product health care/social assistance sector.
A national leader
Throughout the past several years DHS has become known for our innovative and effective programs designed to improve services to our state’s residents. We are national pioneers in helping low-income people become self-sufficient, in helping seniors and people with disabilities live as independently as possible, in reaching a high percentage of people who are eligible for food stamps, in developing community-based mental health care, and in providing evidence-based addictions treatment programs. Thousands of individuals benefit each year from the services we provide.
This system serves Oregon well. However, the state’s need for health and human services continues to grow, and to exceed the capacity of this department. To address this issue, DHS has undertaken an agency-wide effort to improve our processes, streamline service delivery systems and increase staff productivity. Known as the Transformation Initiative, this multi-year effort is expected to enable DHS to provide additional services to a growing and aging population without the need to increase staff.
One area where Transformation already is helping is in our ability to respond to the emergency-level demand for services. The Children, Adults and Families Division is this month rolling out an improved intake process for food stamps and other benefits designed to provide same-day service to applicants. The previous process required applicants to wait a week or more for intake appointments.
However, while the Transformation Initiative will help the department increase the effective and efficient delivery of services, DHS also recognizes that additional resources still will be required to achieve the service levels needed by Oregonians.
A needs-based budget
DHS built the 2009-2011 Agency Request Budget as a needs-based budget that acknowledges the level of investment required to meet Oregonians’ health and human service needs. This budget attempted to accurately recognize the level of need in our communities and to begin the process of addressing many of the most pressing concerns.
However, economic realities have overtaken the possibility of meeting actual need in Oregon. In this presentation, the Essential Budget Level is laid out to show increases in mandated caseload, inflation and loss of funds from other sources.
DHS is responsible for some of the most important work that government can do – protecting the public’s health, ensuring the safety of our most vulnerable citizens, and helping establish a level playing field. As you read through this presentation, you will learn more details about our state’s health and human service needs, our ability to meet those needs, steps we are taking to improve service delivery, and the additional needs that remain unmet.
Bruce Goldberg, M.D. Director,
Oregon Department of Human Services