To: All DHS Staff and StakeholdersMessage from Interim DHS Director Clyde Saiki
There are quiet heroes all across America.
They’re not rich or famous. They work hard every day. They aren’t seeking the spotlight or applause. They just work hard to do the right thing.
The Governor made it clear that my assignment was to address some difficult issues here at DHS. One thing I’ve tried to do is ensure that those difficulties don’t overshadow the good work you do to serve Oregonians and their families. I see thousands of DHS employees and partners who are quiet heroes, working to provide excellent programs and services to vulnerable children, youth, people with intellectual, developmental or physical disabilities, families, and older adults.
I appreciate and thank you for your commitment and ongoing service to others, and I know people all across the state depend on you and your dedication.
This week, I want to wish all of you a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, and I want you to know that I am thankful for the opportunity to work with you again. I also want to assure everyone that we will get through the current difficulties and continue our mission of assisting individuals and families to achieve safety, health and independence.
Governor Kate Brown and I spoke at this morning’s meeting of the Senate Interim Human Services and Early Childhood Committee, and I wanted to take the opportunity to share some of those comments with you all, especially about the independent review of child welfare we will be conducting.
The Governor again expressed her strong commitment to protect the safety of vulnerable children and hold agencies accountable for ensuring that safety. She set out her expectation that one of my top priorities while I am here is to conduct an independent assessment of the DHS child welfare program, focused on the following areas:
Adequacy of oversight and licensing;
As part of that assessment, we will be hiring an independent third party contractor to lead the review of the child welfare program. We will be forming an advisory committee to help with the work, comprised of legislators, licensed providers, stakeholders, and others. In addition, I will work with an internal group of DHS staff and managers to help us support the contractor’s efforts. My plan is to provide weekly reports to the Governor, and I am committed to keeping DHS staff and stakeholders informed of the work, too. I also want to assure you that your input is important to this process -- because front-line staff and supervisors have information that can lead to solutions, too. My door continues to be open to anyone who has information to share.
I expect the result of the independent assessment will be a set of recommendations and changes to be reported to the Governor and the legislature for their review and action. In addition, I am sure that we will identify issues that can be corrected and implemented immediately, without the need to wait for the final report.
Because you work in what I think is the toughest job in state service, helping Oregon’s most vulnerable individuals and families, you know that making changes and corrective actions is not an easy task. However, I am confident we can make real improvements.
As you know, Governor Kate Brown asked me to step into the interim director role at the Oregon Department of Human Services, and I wanted to send this message to you all today because I know that a change in leadership creates many questions. Let me answer some of those here. First of all, I'm not a stranger to DHS – in fact, I spent 23 years working at the agency, and I understand the complexity of the work you do each day. More importantly, I understand your commitment, passion and dedication to the people and families you serve. I want you to know I share that focus, too.
My time here will be limited, and we will begin the search for a permanent Director quickly. I'm not sure how many weeks or months it will take, but the Governor and I know that the selection of a new Director is an important decision. We are committed to finding a new director who can provide the leadership and vision that Oregonians deserve, and I will be here until we find the right person.
I'm looking forward to working with you again, and I am glad to be here – even if it was an unexpected event. Throughout my career I have never made major changes when starting a new assignment. It's important that I take the time to get oriented and get to know the issues and challenges. I will spend the next 3 – 4 weeks meeting with staff and talking to as many people as I can to provide me with the information I need to move forward. There will be hard work to do, but we will get through it, learn from it and continue the important mission of helping Oregonians and their families to be independent, safe and healthy.
I encourage you to talk with your supervisors if you have questions, and you should feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions or concerns. I'll keep you informed as the search for a new Director moves forward.
Thank you for the work you do.
From: Jerry Waybrant, Acting Director
Caring about people and supporting them in difficult circumstances is what we do best. Since the tragic shooting at Umqua Community College (UCC) in Roseburg last week, we’ve seen that caring reach even greater levels as DHS staff across the state wrapped support around our colleagues in Roseburg. Thank you for being quick to act to help our staff and the people we serve across Oregon with direct ties to Roseburg.
A few days of distance from the event doesn’t ease the shock but it does give us space to begin our healing. Roseburg is my home and the place I started my DHS career 30 years ago. It was important to me to be there. Last Thursday I joined many of our staff at the community’s candlelight vigil and on Friday, I visited the local DHS offices.
As you would expect, our staff are stunned by what happened but they are resilient. They are focused on how their community can emerge from the tragedy in a way that moves Roseburg from being defined as a place where a terrible school shooting took place, to being a community defined by how it responded and recovered. They have asked all of us to do two things in that spirit:
There also are several simple ways you can show your support for UCC, our local staff and the Roseburg community:
If you would like to make a personal contribution to UCC or the victims, you can check the UCC website at www.umpqua.edu for recommendations.
A tragedy like this truly sends shockwaves across the state and affects everyone to some degree. Please remember that if you or a family member needs support, you can access our Employee Assistance Program by calling 1-800-433-2320. It’s a free and confidential service. On a normal day, our work is tough enough and I want to encourage everyone to take care of themselves so we are able to take care of others as we move through the grieving process.
Gov. Kate Brown travelled to Roseburg last Thursday after the shooting, spending the late afternoon and evening providing direct support to community members. She continues to be actively engaged in working with us to meet the needs of victims and their families.
Our daily work provides constant reminders that times of great adversity can bring great opportunity for individuals, families and communities. Channeling the emotion and energy this tragedy brought out into something positive honors the wishes of our colleagues in Roseburg and celebrates the lives of the victims. Please continue rising above the rhetoric and reaching out to those who can be our partners in positive change.
I look forward to hearing your ideas for how we can learn from this experience to better meet our goals of safety, health and independence for all Oregonians.
Thank you for all you do.
"What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from."-- T.S. Elliot
What an exciting time. A new biennium. Clear direction from the Governor and legislators. Alignment with many of the priorities of our local communities. An opportunity to lead - to excel - to exceed expectations. An opportunity to accelerate the achievement of our mission: helping Oregonians in their own communities achieve wellbeing and independence through opportunities that protect, empower, respect choice and preserve dignity.
I couldn't be more proud of all that we have achieved together to get to this exact moment - this season of opportunity and new beginnings.
As I close out my time as your Director, please grant me this one request: Please take full advantage of the incredible privilege you have working for this great organization. Believe in your work, in yourselves, in each other. Believe in the power of relationship, of partnership and of community. Believe in the people we serve.
(Ok, so that's more than one request!)
Know that even though I won't be in the same role, I will be watching and cheering you on. Count me among your greatest supporters.
I believe in you.
Respectfully signing off as your Director one last time,
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:
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
Additional detailed information on the DHS budget web page (scroll down to the “Legislatively Adopted Budget” section).
This webpage includes a PDF version of this letter, a side-by-side comparison of the last budget to the new one (very useful), as well as relevant documents from the Legislative Fiscal Office.
DHS Director’s Letter re: 2015-17 Legislatively Adopted Budget for the Oregon Department of Human Services
The mission of the Department of Human Services (DHS) is to help Oregonians in their own communities achieve safety, well-being and independence through services that protect, empower, respect choice and preserve dignity. DHS is responsible for the care of some of Oregon's most vulnerable citizens – children, families, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and seniors. DHS is also responsible for serving Oregonians at times when they are most in need – when they have experienced abuse, when they are hungry, when they are homeless.
The 2015-17 Legislatively Adopted Budget (LAB) continues many of the efforts that began in the 2013-15 biennium, supporting DHS to achieve the following outcomes:
The following is a summary by program area of the 2015-17 the Legislatively Adopted Budget (LAB):
Aging and People with Disabilities: The Aging and People with Disabilities (APD) program area provides services and supports to Oregonians over the age of 65 and to adults with physical disabilities. In partnership with Area Agencies on Aging, the APD program area also provides Older Americans Act and Oregon Project Independence services to over 360,000 individuals and eligibility services to over 163,000 seniors and people with disabilities each year.
The 2015-17 LAB for APD includes the following:
Aging and People with Disabilities Special Purpose Authorization Continues:
Eliminates or Reduces:
Developmental Disability Programs: The Developmental Disabilities program area serves over 23,500 children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) throughout their life span, and the number of eligible individuals requesting services is increasing. Counties, Brokerages, Providers, Families and Self-Advocates are all critical parts of Oregon’s Developmental Disabilities service system that focuses on individuals with I/DD living in the community and having the best quality of life at any age.
The 2015-17 for DD program area includes the following:
Child Welfare Programs: Child Welfare Programs serve children and families when children are subject to abuse and neglect in their home environment. Child protection workers respond to all reports of familial child abuse/neglect and, if a child cannot be safe at home, place children in foster care. In a single year, Child Welfare programs respond to over 64,000 reports of child abuse and neglect and on any given day in Oregon, about 7,800 children are served in the foster care system.
The 2015-17 LAB for Child Welfare includes the following:
Self Sufficiency Programs: Self Sufficiency programs are designed to help families achieve economic security with temporary supports for their most basic needs, such as food, health insurance coverage and child care, while working to meet their employment goals. In a single year, Self Sufficiency program serves more than 1 million Oregonians.
The 2015-17 LAB for SSP includes the following elements:
Vocational Rehabilitation: The Vocational Rehabilitation program (VR) assesses, develops service plans and provides vocational rehabilitation services to youth and adults whose disabilities present impediments to employment. Every year, VR provides basic services to over 12,000 Oregonians with disabilities, Youth Transition Services to approximately 3,500 young people, and Supported Employment to over 250 individuals. Independent Living programs, also funded in this budget, serve almost 19,000 Oregonians each year.
The 2015-17 LAB for VR includes the following:
Agency Administration: Central DHS and Shared Services for DHS/OHA provide oversight and direction for programs and services to ensure the agency’s mission is achieved.
The 2015-17 LAB for Central and Shared Services includes the following:
ConclusionDHS is committed to innovation, transparency, and prioritizing improvements that will use resources efficiently and effectively. Our success in that effort depends upon nearly 8,000 employees across the state, as well as upon thousands of community and service delivery partners, all of whom are dedicated to supporting and improving the lives of Oregonians. Every year, more than one-million people rely on DHS services, and important services provided by other agencies and organizations, to meet their most basic needs, to be safe, to live as independently as possible, and to support their efforts to achieve economic independence. We are thankful for the legislative support to meet the needs of vulnerable Oregonians.
If you have questions about the Legislatively Adopted Budget for DHS, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get you the information you need.
~Erinn Kelley-Siel, DHS Director
I am pleased to announce a new opportunity for DHS staff to gain professional development AND help the organization improve – it’s called Lean Academy. The Office of Continuous Improvement (OCI) will offer the Lean Academy beginning this fall, which will provide DHS staff the ability to increase Lean knowledge and skills, and the opportunity to apply continuous improvement methods in their local area.
Lean Academy is an empowering training program focused on application of Lean concepts into daily work. The candidates who are selected remain in their current jobs, but will be provided training in Lean methodologies. Most importantly, participants will have the opportunity to practice that skill in everyday situations, embedding the concepts of Lean into their professional areas of expertise. Participants in the Lean Academy will be guided through implementing a local process improvement project. Each participant will get in-person classroom training and 1:1 mentorship with an OCI Lean Leader for support.
Those who successfully complete the program will be designated as the Lean expert in their local area, providing the support and expertise to improve regional efforts and processes, while remaining in their current jobs. By increasing the capacity of individuals throughout the department, we hope to create a culture for sustainable and independent support of locally focused Lean efforts.
DHS leadership has made the commitment to transform how Lean application is resourced and supported within every area and unit. We know that DHS staff are ready for the next step in Lean application in areas that are most important for them. The Lean Academy provides an avenue for staff to understand how to recognize and apply continuous improvement in their area of professional influence, supporting the larger vision of continuous improvement for DHS as a whole. As a state agency, our commitment to taxpayers is that we will deliver services in the most efficient and effective way possible. Fulfilling our vision as a continuous learning and continuous improvement organization requires more than just twenty dedicated Lean leaders in central office. If you’re interested in getting more Lean skills and want to help out in your local community, I encourage you to apply!
The Lean Academy will begin recruitment in August, and candidates will be selected through a competitive application process. Keep an eye out for more information as this exciting opportunity becomes available.
Questions: Please send any inquiries regarding the Lean Academy to: mailto:OCI.Director@dhsoha.state.or.us
With the passage of Measure 91 last year, recreational marijuana became legal at midnight on June 30, 2015. The new law allows Oregonians who are 21 and older to grow limited amounts of marijuana on their property and to possess limited amounts of recreational marijuana for personal use.
However, we want to emphasize that Measure 91’s approval does not change DHS nor the state of Oregon’s requirement of a drug-free workplace. DHS policy, state law and federal law do not allow the possession, distribution or use of marijuana (in any form) at work, on state property or in state vehicles.
DHS continues to comply with the federal Drug-free Workplace Act of 1988. Violation of the policy can result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination, in accordance with applicable collective bargaining agreements. If you have any questions, please contact your supervisor or Human Resources representative.
We understand the confusion about what will be and what will not be legal after July 1, and the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) has launched a website to answer the basic questions. You can go to www.whatslegaloregon.com for more information.
Thank you for your continued cooperation in maintaining a safe, secure workplace for everyone.
>> Here’s the information the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) sent to us yesterday, there is also a FAQ.RE: Guidance for Agencies Regarding Marijuana Use on State Property by Members of the Public
As the July 1, 2015, legalization of recreational marijuana under Measure 91 (2014) approaches, we continue to receive inquiries into when law enforcement needs to be notified about violations of the law. In general, we are recommending that education of citizens is the first and highest priority in the early days of legalization. Please refer to OLCC’s website: www.whatslegaloregon.com for information on their “Educate Before You Recreate” program. The “SHARE” link on the page has printable posters and cards that state employees can hand out in the event an individual asks if they can use or is observed using marijuana in any form on state grounds.
Please direct staff to rely upon these materials and the frequently asked questions, to ensure all state agencies are communicating a consistent and accurate message regarding recreational marijuana use. If an individual claims that their use in public is allowed because they possess a medical marijuana card, staff can inform them that medical marijuana use is not allowed in public citing ORS 475.316.
Measure 91 prohibits any use of marijuana in a “public place,” defined as “a place to which the general public has access and includes, but is not limited to, hallways, lobbies, and other parts of apartment houses and hotels not constituting rooms or apartments designed for actual residence, and highways, streets, schools, places of amusement, park, playgrounds, and premises used in connection with public passenger transportation.”
If your state agency has property in a county or city that chooses to “opt out” of either the medical or recreational systems, please know that opt out only applies to marijuana-related business and does not affect the ability of individuals to grown their own marijuana or use marijuana in counties or cities covered by a local opt out.
The penalty for use of marijuana in public is a Class B violation—essentially a traffic ticket. Possession of large amounts of marijuana and delivery of marijuana for consideration (except for retail stores when they begin sales) remain crimes. It is never okay for minors to possess or use marijuana, and crimes involving children are of greatest concern.
Ultimately, the decision on whether or not to engage law enforcement will come down to a judgment call by the state employee dealing with the issue, balancing both the appropriate use of law enforcement resources with the need to ensure public safety on state grounds. If you are within a city or county that has separate agreements with local law enforcement, you are encouraged to have a dialogue with them directly.
Today is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. At last month’s White House Conference on Aging, one of the topic areas was elder abuse. They produced a policy brief that explains that elder abuse is a serious public health problem affecting millions of older Americans each year. Elder abuse affects older adults across all socioeconomic groups and care settings. Due to diminished capacity, older adults with cognitive impairment are at greater risk of abuse. Additionally, African American, Latino, low-income, and socially isolated older adults are victimized disproportionately. About two-thirds of elder abuse victims are women. Financial exploitation of older adults can cause large economic losses for older adults, families, and society. In addition, abuse increases the reliance on federal health care programs such as Medicaid and Medicare. Research suggests that victims of elder abuse may be four times more likely to be admitted to a nursing home, and three times more likely to be admitted to a hospital.
In addition to recognizing World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, I want to focus closer to home because we believe every Oregon adult deserves to live in safety – free from abuse, neglect and financial exploitation.
Here are some Oregon facts:
Behind these statistics are real people, both the victims of abuse and the many dedicated Adult Protective Services Specialists who work to protect vulnerable adults and children. Adult Protective Services Specialists in Oregon face danger, difficulty and hard choices every working day. I want to take the opportunity to share just a couple of comments from those on the front lines of elder abuse, working quietly to assure the safety, dignity, health and self-determination of our state’s vulnerable elderly and disabled community:
“We deal with incredibly complex cases: complicated fraud and financial abuse investigations, requiring detailed reconstruction and accounting; victims and perpetrators with mental health issues, alcoholism and drug abuse; unsanitary and hazardous environments; individuals with dementia and other cognitive impairments requiring massive investments of time and resources; various institutional investigations that require an entirely different skillset to maneuver.” (RG, Hillsboro)
“We are highly-trained and educated individuals, performing legally, medically and ethically complex investigations. We are valuable and worthy of the investment in our services.” (AD, St Helens)
“We are highly-trained and educated individuals, performing legally, medically and ethically complex investigations. We are valuable and worthy of the investment in our services.” (AD, St Helens)
Thank you for the work you do! DHS offers many resources on the web, including signs of elder abuse and where to call for help. The Office of Adult Abuse Prevention and Investigations also has annual reports of abuse, neglect and financial exploitation.
Finally, because we’re all mandatory reporters of elder abuse, as well as child abuse, today is another opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to keeping our most vulnerable individuals safe, healthy and independent.
Have a great week!
DHS exists to help achieve safety, health and independence for those we serve, and I know that this work has meaning for each and every employee at the agency. Last year at about this time, I started asking people to tap into their personal "WHY" – and we’ve been calling this effort “Know Your Why.” Know Your Why is a good way for all of us to think more deeply and thoughtfully about our efforts to inspire ourselves to continuously improve our work and our services.
Today, I wanted to provide another tool I like that came from the Town Hall meetings we held across the state last summer. It’s an affirmation of our beliefs and goals for the individuals and families we work with – as well as for the agency. It’s something you can print out and hang on a bulletin board or in your work space, and it’s another good way to highlight WHY we do the work we do.
In the coming weeks, I want to talk more about the results we’re seeking for Oregonians and how we are going to get there. Of course, I always want to hear from you about your successes and challenges in achieving these goals. In my very first message to you as the new DHS Director a little more than four years ago, I said, “I do this work because I believe in what we do." That’s still true today, and I thank you for believing in the work we do, too. Oregonians are better off because of your commitment and service.
We have an agency-wide Quarterly Business Review (QBR) coming up next week, so I’ve been thinking about our scorecard and how it reflects how we are doing on achieving outcomes for the people we serve. I’ve also been thinking about all of you: DHS employees. Nationally, about one-third (31.5%) of U.S. workers said they were engaged in their jobs in 2014, according to a Gallup survey. However, 51% said they were "not engaged" and 17.5% were "actively disengaged" at work. And these results were an improvement over past surveys!
Over that last several years we have also been measuring employee engagement, and many of you have taken the DHS employee survey. We use seven questions from that survey to measure “engagement,” and the survey is given to about 25% of the DHS population (randomly selected) each quarter. At the March QBR, we got an analysis of the answers those seven important questions, and today I’d like to share some highlights with you. Here’s a chart with the average DHS scores by Program area (The three lowest scores by program area and DHS have been shaded):
It’s interesting! I believe the information from the survey is telling us the following things:
The survey really reflects our culture. The answers relate to development, to inclusion, to appreciation, to empowerment. They relate directly to our Core Values of Professionalism, Responsibility, Integrity, and Respect. They relate to the DHS Leadership Model competencies (Accountability, Communication, and Empowerment). While DHS managers and supervisors play a critical role in fostering a positive culture, we all lead by example. What is one thing you could do differently to impact the lowest scores above -- Give specific praise to a coworker? Really listen to someone’s opinion? Pass along a word of encouragement to someone who appears to be struggling?
This is what I’ve been thinking about, and I encourage you to engage in a discussion of the chart above at a unit or branch meeting. I will also do my part to lead by example to discuss this at one of my meetings with the Cabinet and Executive Team.
You know that I greatly appreciate everything you do, your commitment to DHS, and the difference you make in the lives of many Oregonians and our communities. Please send me your thoughts on how we can continue to do good work and on areas where we can continue to improve!
Last Friday, Governor Kate Brown delivered her first State of the State address. I wanted to be sure you all had an opportunity to read her remarks about Oregon today, and her vision for the future of this beautiful state. I was especially interested in the Governor’s remarks concerning the individuals and the families we serve here at DHS – opportunities for working families, for children to be successful in school, help for Oregon’s rural communities, and promoting equity.
I encourage you take a few minutes to read the speech to get to know our new Governor a little better and learn more about the things she cares about!
Have a great week.
It is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and one of our goals is to see that every Oregon child has the chance to grow up in a safe and loving family, with support for success in school. Today, I want to share a message from DHS Child Welfare Director Lois Ann Day about the important work going on to help Oregon achieve this outcome for children and their families. Have a great week!
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. This month and throughout the year, DHS Child Welfare encourages all individuals and organizations to play a role in making Oregon a better place for children and families. Everyone’s participation is critical in keeping children safe. Focusing on ways to build and promote the protective factors in every interaction with our children and families is the best thing our community can do to prevent child maltreatment and promote optimal child development. Protective factors include concrete supports for parents, nurturing, attachment and knowledge of parenting and of child and youth development. By ensuring parents have the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to care for their children, we can help promote children’s social and emotional well-being and prevent child abuse within families and communities.
As a state, Oregon is focused on making our system responsive to children’s safety, wellbeing and permanency needs. We are in the process of implementing a Differential Response model that is transforming Child Welfare’s engagement with families and in many cases keeping children safely at home with the right support and supervision.
In 2007, the legislature passed Karly’s law, in memory of three year-old Karly Sheehan, which requires a specialized child abuse medical assessment within 48 hours when suspicious injuries are identified on a child. It establishes a process of coordinated efforts between law enforcement, child welfare and the medical community to keep children safe. Since the passage of Karly’s law the number of children identified with suspicious injuries has increased, and we are better at recognizing signs of potential abuse. The law is a great tool we use in protecting Oregon’s children.
In 2013, the Oregon legislature, with support of the Governor, invested $23.7 million in total funds for statewide implementation of Strengthening, Preserving and Reunifying Families program. This program provides contract dollars for a broad array of services statewide that can help parents address the issues that are preventing them from keeping their children safe at home and out of foster care.
There are other efforts we are making as a system: Permanency Roundtables, increased services for homeless and runaway youth, expansion of Wraparound services for children, increased wellness initiatives for children in foster care, child specific focused recruitment for foster and adoptive resources, and more. The child welfare system is focused on those factors that support families and children, preventing abuse from occurring: increased access to health care, Pay for Prevention, increasing community engagement around the needs of children and families under stress, all day kindergarten, and more.
When we make meaningful connections with the children, youth and families in our communities, we can help parents build the knowledge and skills and access the resources necessary to raise safe children whose full potential can be realized. Everyone can play a role in preventing child abuse and neglect and promoting child and family well-being.
Oregon’s 2015 Legislative session began last week, and I wanted to frame the upcoming work we will be doing and to answer questions about the process. As you know, the Legislature has a great many issues to address this session, both in the budget process and also in terms of proposed legislation dealing with everything from school funding to transportation to recreational marijuana and more.
As part of the legislative budget process, one of our first jobs is to present detailed information about the agency, our programs, goals, budget and outcomes we want to see for clients and their families as part of the Ways and Means process. These presentations are the first step in getting to the final Legislatively Approved Budget this year, and DHS begins the presentations to the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Services today.
In each presentation, we will focus on demonstrating results with the dollars invested in our services in 2013-15, and also on those program areas and initiatives where we can have the greatest positive impact on our clients, their families and our communities. Some of these programs and initiatives are new, but many more reflect work we’ve already started. Our presentations will answer questions about the progress we’ve made, as well as the work left to do in order to finish what we’ve started!
It’s important to me that you know what is happening, and we will keep you informed and updated. You’ll be able to get a copy of each day’s presentation on the DHS website.
Today’s DHS Overview is already posted, and we’ll add more PowerPoints, reports and documents as our Ways and Means process continues (see the schedule below). You can always address questions to your supervisors, or anyone in leadership here at the Department, and we will do our best to get answers for you.
Finally, legislative sessions always produce lots of facts, proposals, opposing positions and rumors. Just like last session, I ask that everyone do their best to remain calm, avoid speculation or "what if" scenarios and remember that nothing is final until it is final – and that means approved by both the House and Senate and signed by the Governor.
I want to close by recognizing the hard work being done every day throughout the agency. Your efforts are evident in all the materials we are using to tell our story!
Thank you and have a great week.
DHS Ways & Means Subcommittee on Human Services Presentation Schedule:
On Monday, we mark the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a time to remember the transformational work he did to advance the cause of social justice, raise awareness of individual and institutional racism, advance the idea that governments should work for all citizens, and inspire political and civic action.
In his Inaugural Address this week, Governor Kitzhaber said:
“Disparity is the enemy of community; it separates us; it divides us; it reflects inequality; a lack of fairness; and it means someone is being left behind; that someone is being excluded from the community. And for those who are excluded there is no common purpose. And if there is no common purpose there is no community. And if there is no community, there is no way we can successfully meet the challenges we face as a state and as a society.”
As we look around our nation (and the rest of the world!) today, it is clear that there is so much more work to be done. Humankind still struggles with disparities of race, religion, gender, sexual identity, wealth and power. However, Dr. King’s legacy is very real here at the Department of Human Services – in our Core Values and in our mission to improve the lives of the Oregonians we serve. We all work toward a common goal, and we strive to work in a way that demonstrates our Core Values in action, especially the values of Respect and Service Equity.
For some of you, the holiday will be a day of service, part of the national initiative to make the holiday a “day on, not a day off” in order to promote the vision of Dr. King (see below). For others, the holiday is a time to reflect on his life and powerful words.
As you enjoy a long holiday weekend, please take the opportunity to consider the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. -- and, as you do so, I encourage you to make a personal recommitment to follow his example -- not just in words, but in action.
For those of you in the Salem area -- the Office of Equity and Multicultural Services (OEMS), in partnership with the Diversity and Equity Advisory Committee (DEAC), is hosting an event at the Human Services Building in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on January 21, 2015 during the lunch hour. We encourage you to attend! The event features poetry and music celebrating the life and teachings of Dr. King, and the opportunity to share messages. Please see the event poster for details. In addition to the event, OEMS and DEAC are also sponsoring the Act of Service Challenge during which staff are encouraged to consider volunteer their time to conduct an act of service in their community. Local DEAC members are assisting in the tracking and the total number of hours statewide will be shared in a future message from DEAC.