|One of the greatest honors of my job is that I am often asked to represent the Department of Human Services in public forums. I always jump at the chance because it allows me to tell the story of the amazing work that goes on in DHS branches and offices.
Stories like this one -- just last week I received an e-mail from a caseworker in Washington County inviting me to a ceremony for foster child who had been in the child welfare system for nearly her entire life. She already has a job lined up and is on her way to a bright future because her caseworkers did not give up on her and are helping her beat the odds to succeed.
I love hearing those stories and sharing them with Oregonians. I had the opportunity to do just that today at the City Club of Portland. I talked to the group -- and to the broadcast audience -- about how DHS is transforming itself to meet modern human service demands. I talked about how important the work we do is to families, to seniors, to people with disabilities or mental illness. I talked about how the demand is greater than our ability to fulfill it and how hard DHS employees work every day.
And I also laid out what needs to happen in the future -- how transforming DHS is important but not enough to meet this growing need. That as a state we have to start tackling root causes -- such as drug and alcohol addiction and obesity and other avoidable ills -- which will keep people safe and healthy.
I know these are difficult times in many ways in our agency. Furloughs for managers and other non-represented employees combined with intense contract negotiations mean that we are all affected -- as are our clients -- by the ongoing recession. I want to say again how much your work is appreciated by me and -- even though it doesn't always feel like it -- the public. Here's another great story -- from a newspaper just today.
It is about a woman who in spite of working three jobs cannot afford health insurance. Like many, she said, it was hard for her to make a call to us about the Oregon Health Plan. She had a stereotype about public benefits and thought she would be treated badly by the state bureaucracy.
"I was so wrong," she told the reporter. "The people there were so great. I am so grateful."
Also, I am happy to announce that the Transformation Initiative has a new Web site that will give updates and news about the improvements happening across the agency and opportunities for employees to get involved. You can find that here: www.oregon.gov/dhs/transformation/. If you are interested, you can read the entire speech here: www.oregon.gov/DHS/docs/city-club-portland-speech.pdf
NOTE: The City Club of Portland Speech will be broadcast on Oregon Public Broadcast Friday at 7 p.m. Click here for information on your local station statewide and additional radio and cable television broadcasts: