Five innovative programs implemented by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) and honored by the National Association of Counties with Achievement Awards were recognized by the Board of Supervisors.
Chair of the Board, Supervisor Janice Hahn, praised the innovative approach to providing a safety net for at-risk and hard-to-serve County residents. DPSS Director Antonia Jiménez joined her program managers at the Board meeting to celebrate these achievements:
CalFresh Participation Rate
The CalFresh Program (nationally known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP), serves as the first line of defense against food insecurity. DPSS provides this nutritional safeguard to approximately 551,900 households. DPSS implemented a three-pronged approach to increase enrollment. The initiative included comprehensive marketing, community outreach, and the development of highly creative media and social media strategies to not only increase CalFresh enrollment but also retain active/open cases.
Automated Adopt-A-Family Application
For over 30 years, DPSS has brought joy and smiles to many individuals and families during the holiday season through its Adopt-A-Family Program, hosted annually by DPSS Toy Loan and Volunteer Services (TLVS). The goal is to match sponsors with DPSS customers who are undergoing a hardship during the holiday season. Sponsors are provided with the adoptee’s contact information, along with their personalized wish list, which may include groceries, clothing, gift certificates or toys. The purchased gifts are delivered by the sponsors or picked up by the family at a designated DPSS site. In 2018, over 1,000 sponsors provided gifts to 1,500 families. The automation of the Adopt-A-Family application has significantly improved the program by simplifying the sponsor-family matching process. Sponsors are now able to apply online to sponsor one or more families. The system also allows DPSS to monitor the number of sponsors and families matched and the number of families who have yet to be matched.
“Help the Homeless” Volunteer Project
DPSS initiated its annual “Help the Homeless” volunteer project in June 2016. The project solicits employees, friends, and family members as volunteers for a day of service to help the homeless population at the Weingart Center in downtown Los Angeles in collaboration with community partners. Volunteers assemble hygiene kits, sort clothing donations, prepare and serve food, work as teams on community beautification projects and conduct community outreach. To prepare for the event, DPSS employees conduct donation drives of clothing and personal hygiene items. Each year the number of department staff, family and friends continues to grow, increasing from 108 in 2016 to 261 in 2018. The objective of this volunteer program is to bring employees together, mostly eligibility workers, to volunteer as a team outside of their regular work locations within DPSS offices to provide a service for the greater well-being of the community.
The Family Stabilization Health Coordination Program
This program offers short-term assistance to DPSS customers and their family members who are experiencing a barrier that is destabilizing the family unit and hindering their ability to participate in Welfare to Work activities. It includes intake assessment, case management, assistance with obtaining public benefits, and limited temporary financial assistance.
Career Development Resource Center
This center provides a dedicated space for professional development workshops, presentations on relevant workforce development topics, and exclusive specialized trainings and meetings. The center also helps DPSS employees plan their career path. Employees who visit the center receive assistance with resume building, interview preparation, online skill-building programs, career exploration through college/university information sessions, County exam preparation materials and other skill-building materials.
About the National Association of Counties (NACo): The mission of NACo, founded in 1935, is to strengthen America’s counties, including the nearly 40,000 elected county officials and 3.6 million county employees. NACo works to unite officials to advocate for county government priorities in federal policymaking, promote exemplary county policies and practices, nurture leadership skills, expand knowledge networks, optimize county and taxpayer resources and enrich the public’s understanding of county government.
With 3.5 million customers served by 14,000 employees, the Department of Public Social Services is the largest local social services agency in the nation. The department currently provides benefits and services to families and individuals, including CalFresh food and nutrition assistance; Medi-Cal health, dental and vision insurance; financial and homeless assistance for qualifying individuals through the General Relief program and for families through the CalWORKs program; In-Home Supportive Services for disabled and elderly residents, and employment and supportive services to help residents prepare for the labor market. For more information, visit www.dpss.lacounty.gov.