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August 6, 2012: DHS Town Hall Meetings

Hello DHS,

This week's message is to keep you in the loop about the Town Hall meetings we are holding in Bend, Eugene, Medford and Portland and the webinar we are hosting for everyone in the state. I know you all received the information about the meetings, and I wanted to make sure that those of you who cannot attend still get a copy of the presentation we will be making to local communities.

Our goal for these meetings is to gather input as we finalize our priorities for strategic direction and funding for 2013-15 and beyond. It's a chance for stakeholders and partners to hear from us in person -- and for us to hear from them -- about where the agency is today and where we are going in the future. In the past, these were really budget meetings, but we're hoping to get more information than that. I'm especially interested in hearing from local communities about our bigger strategic initiatives and the direction that DHS is charting for the future, for the agency, our clients and our partners.  You'll see those "breakthrough" initiatives in the PowerPoint presentation, but I'll give you a preview here, too.

We are following the Governor's direction and looking at DHS services and programs in four main outcome areas: Economy and Jobs, Healthy People, Safety and Education. These four outcome areas fit our mission pretty well, so it's a good fit for us, and we have a lot of important work underway in support of those outcomes:

In Economy and Jobs, we're putting our efforts and focus on improved employment outcomes for our clients in TANF, Vocational Rehabilitation and Developmental Disability Services that support family stability and independence. This initiative is in partnership with K-12 education, Community Colleges and Workforce Development, Employment Department and community partners. For example, Oregon's TANF program has seen very large since the beginning of the recession, and budgets supporting employment, job skills training, and parent supports have been cut. This effort is looking at opportunities to improve TANF outcomes with limited resources.

In Healthy People, we're looking at three very important initiatives. The first is called LTC 3.0. As you well know, Oregon has been a leader in long-term care and to keep that position we are working to address current gaps and anticipate future trends. LTC 3.0 includes modernizing and improving Oregon's system to emphasize prevention, innovation and sustainability. The goal is to ensure that Oregon seniors and people with disabilities get the right services - at the right time - at the right place. The second initiative is about Oregon's Developmental Disabilities system and is focusing on strategies to improve the quality of life in communities for Oregonians with I/DD -- and ensure a sustainable system for the long term. This means improving employment opportunities, expanding use of technology, expanding in-home support models, creating new models of service (e.g. shared living, supports specific to transition age youth) and more supports for families. The third initiative in healthy people is Modernization. That means modernized service delivery in which DHS and partners will improve the customer experience by creating opportunities for clients to access services in more customized ways and ensure that clients have the time they need with case managers. It means modernized technology that will result in new, innovative and more efficient technology systems that will streamline operations in our field offices, giving workers more time with clients and community partners and allowing for less time on paperwork & process. Data interoperability will improve service coordination across programs and service systems. It also means better service to clients due to improved access to DHS programs, improved timeliness, and more meaningful time with their case managers to help them along their journey to self-sufficiency and independence.

Safety is one of our primary goals, and there are two very important safety initiatives underway. The first is the ongoing safe and equitable foster care reduction work that has been going on for several years. Oregon has a higher rate of foster care placement than most other states. In the past four years, fewer children have had to experience foster care in Oregon, but we believe we can do more to strengthen families, protect children and improve life-long outcomes. What's new to this initiative is the planning and implementing a new model of child welfare intervention, called Differential Response, which will reduce foster care entry, continue our emphasis on relative placements, and strengthen local, community-based interventions on behalf of families that have experienced abuse and neglect. The end result will be to expedite the safe return of children to their families. The other important initiative is in the areas of adult protective services and licensing and regulatory oversight. DHS is committed to ensuring that our APS and long-term care licensing and monitoring programs protect the most vulnerable members of our communities. It includes an aggressive plan to close gaps in protection services to seniors and adults with disabilities, including developmental disabilities. Strategies include targeted prevention efforts, enhanced background checks, improved training programs, stronger investigation standards, and improved relationships with local law enforcement and community partners.

Finally, DHS also has an important role to play in Education. Our focus is on the Employment Related Day Care program because it supports family stability and independence by ensuring that adults can find and maintain employment while securing quality day care for their children. Expanding that focus through the Governor's Early Learning agenda, ERDC is working to add school readiness for children as an outcome focus. Of course, there are other DHS programs which work with children, too, and will have a part to play in this outcome area.

Sorry for the long message today, but I wanted you to get a flavor of the kind of information I'll be presenting this week at our Town Hall meetings. I've attached a copy of my PowerPoint slides, if you're interested in seeing the whole show. Thank you for all your work in these focus areas and for your support in getting these plans and initiatives underway. We have lots of good work ahead of us, as well as continuing to provide our currents services to children, youth, adults and families across the state.

Have a great week.