Seven years ago this month, I got a call letting me know that a great leader, Bryan Johnston, had unexpectedly passed away and asking me to step in as the Interim Director of the Children, Adults and Families Division at the Department of Human Services.
At the time, my son was a baby and just prior to that call, I had promised my family that I was going to stop commuting to Salem. Well, it's time for me to keep that promise. I have let Governor Brown know that it's time for me to leave DHS.
My decision to leave has not been an easy one to make. I am passionate about what we do for people, and I have incredible regard for all of you and our partners who do this work. Those of you who know me well know that I see the jobs that we do at DHS as more than just jobs -- I believe that they are callings. The position of DHS Director belongs to the people of Oregon, and it's been my privilege to have answered the call to serve in this role.
I am so proud of all that we have accomplished together:
- We became more efficient so that we could not just meet the needs but improve our ability to serve hundreds of thousands more Oregonians during the Great Recession.
- Fewer children are experiencing foster care because we've expanded services to stabilize families, and we are on track to implement Differential Response statewide in this upcoming biennium.
- More Oregonians who have needed our services are going back to work, including a growing number of TANF parents, Vocational Rehabilitation consumers, and individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
- Our adult abuse prevention and intervention services are stronger, with better data, more staff and stronger law enforcement and community partnerships.
- More children with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families have access to in-home and youth transition services to support them to achieve their goals.
- And finally, even with increasing caseloads, we have reduced even further the percentage of older Oregonians served in nursing facilities.
As important to me as what we have accomplished is how we have gone about our work.
We've strengthened our commitment to customer service. Our connections in communities are stronger. We are aligned across the agency around the results we are trying to achieve -- from the front line to program to our business operations. Our partnerships across programs and services, both within and outside DHS, are growing. Service equity is a top priority. We have a commitment to continuous improvement. Throughout the organization we use data to manage and make decisions. And we have balanced our budget for three consecutive biennia.
Even with all of that, we have so much more to do. Resources continue to be limited, and the number of seniors and people with disabilities who qualify for long term care services is growing. Many of our consumers don't earn enough in their jobs to support themselves and their families. Too many Oregonians continue to experience abuse, neglect and domestic violence.
So, why am I taking this step now? A couple of reasons: first and foremost, my family has let me know that it's time. They have sacrificed a lot for me to do this job, and I am grateful to them for that. It also feels like the right time for the agency. Leadership throughout our organization is strong, driving toward a collective vision for the future, and ready to continue the important work that needs to be done. And last, but certainly not least, we have incredible support from Governor Brown and legislative leaders as we begin a new biennium.
I will be your Director until Governor Brown decides on a replacement. Until then, know that it has been my honor to lead and be part of this organization and to have been part of creating safety, health and independence for people throughout our great state.
Department of Human Services