Employees can now receive up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave

Best Starts video captureKing County Executive Dow Constantine’s proposal for up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave was approved by the County Council on December 7, putting King County at the forefront of the national movement to expand paid parental leave.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2016, County employees will be allowed to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave when welcoming a new family member through birth, adoption, or foster-to-adopt placement.

“I’m proud that King County is among the leading employers in the nation to offer a program that has a positive, lifelong impact on a child’s development,” said Executive Constantine. “It also demonstrates our commitment to recruiting and retaining the talented workforce we need to deliver the best outcomes for our community.”

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Breaking down barriers through supported employment

Jodeen Wieser is a 20-year employee with King County’s Environmental Lab, a Lab Assistant who performs a wide range of essential tasks that help the Lab do its work of collecting, analyzing and monitoring samples that protect our local environment.

Jodeen is also a supported employee through a King County program that pairs her with a job coach to help with learning new skills, communication and any other issues that arise.

“When you meet someone with a disability that maybe is a different picture of what you thought someone was or what they could do it really helps you to become more comfortable,” Christina Davidson, Supported Employment Program Manager for King County, said. “And as coworkers become more comfortable with employees and coworkers with disabilities, so does the community and it really helps to break down barriers.”

Hiring individuals with developmental disabilities through the Supported Employment Program is a cost effective way to improve efficiency in departments, change lives, and create more inclusive workplaces. Watch the short video below that highlights Jodeen and contact Christina Davidson, King County’s Supported Employment Program Manager, to learn more about ways you can take advantage of this program.

Cybercriminals will ring in the Holidays

PhishingThe start of the holiday shopping season marked by Black Friday and Cyber Monday is here. Cybercriminals take advantage of busy online shopping days which provide an opportunity for dramatically increased illicit profits, but you can protect yourself.

The FBI has identified a number of different scams and schemes which could be used by cybercriminals this holiday shopping season such as:

  • Malicious phishing emails for big ticket items and “too good to be true deals”
  • Selling counterfeit or stolen products
  • Fraudulent shipping notices from DHL, UPS and FedEx
  • Holiday refund buncos
  • Online surveys requesting personal information offering complimentary vouchers or gift cards
  • Free malicious mobile applications
  • Contests offering items such as movie tickets for popular shows seeking for personal information
  • Fake charities
  • Point-of-sale (PoS) malware.

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Administrative Professional recognized by peers

Kimberly RobinsonLike all King County departments and agencies, the Human Resources Division is working on multiple wide-ranging programs and requests at any one time, and its employees rely heavily on the support of its administrative professionals to deliver services to County employees and customers.

Ask any HRD employee and they’ll likely tell you that the reason the division is able to run smoothly is administrator Kimberly Robinson, who recently celebrated 10 years with King County and HRD.

Robinson is a member of the HRD Administrative Team that provides high level administrative support to the Director’s Office. She is the office manager for the division, coordinating and submitting communications and transmittals on behalf of the Director’s Office. She also coordinates work orders with Facilities Management Division and KCIT as well as outside vendors, and serves as a resource for all customers who contact the division online, by phone or in person.

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Five Questions with Mei Barker, Human Resource Analyst, Human Resources Division

Mei Barker - Copy1. What was your first role with King County? My first role with King County was to provide administrative support to the Public Health Tuberculosis Control Program, mainly processing billing reconciliations and special projects. About a year later I began my career in Human Resources with Superior Court.

2. What do you do in your role with Human Resources Division (HRD)? I handle the civil service recruitments for the Sheriff’s Office, as a member of the Compensation and Employment Services Section of HRD.

3. How is the process for hiring Sheriff’s Office employees different to other agencies? 

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Employee working to end veteran homelessness featured in Lean blog

The Lean in King County blog recently featured Dawn Barrett – who we featured in our “Five Questions with… ” segment on November 10 – in an article called “Turning an (Almost) Impossible Goal into Concrete and Solvable Problems.”

Barrett is working on King County’s ambitious goal of ending homelessness among an estimated 1,100 veterans by the end of 2015.

“If we keep doing business as usual, we’ll keep housing as usual,” says Barrett.

Barrett and her team are using Lean to identify small, solvable goals with the aim of achieving the really big, audacious goal of ending veteran homelessness in King County.

Read the full article here.

Veterans Court helps veterans in criminal justice system

For most, the court system can be complicated, confusing and scary. For many veterans, the process now comes with a sense of comradery and hope.


Callista Welbaum, Regional Veterans Court Program Manager

The King County District Court Regional Veterans Court serves veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or other disabilities from their time in service.  In 2008, a judge in New York launched the first Veterans Treatment Court. Recognizing a need, King County launched a study in 2011 to determine the best treatment option, and in 2012 officially opened King County District Court’s Regional Veterans Court.

The Regional Veterans Court is classified as a therapeutic court, where individuals are served by what their needs and different risks are. By working with veterans, the Regional Veterans Court hopes to stop them from offending, and give them tools to deal with their underlying mental health and addiction issues, Callista Welbaum, Program Manager said.

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Explore Race and Social Justice through Literature Out Loud

“We are human only if I see myself

in you and if you see yourself in me.”

These lines are from a poem called “Dialectic” by Quenton Baker, one of eight literary artists selected to present their work to King County employees in a series of symposia in 2016 called “Reflecting on Race and Racism through Spoken Word, Story, and Conversation.”

The presentations offer King County employees the opportunity to explore equity and social justice issues through the personal and intimate art of “literature out loud.” Writers will read or perform their work and briefly explain its genesis and inspiration. A facilitated question-and-answer session between audience and artists will follow.

Poets Quenton Baker and Casandra Lopez will appear in the first symposium on January 12 from 1-3 p.m. in the eighth-floor conference at King Street Center.

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Five Questions with Dawn Barrett, Social Worker/Veterans Program, Community & Human Services

1. Dawn BarrettWhat was your first role at King County? My first role for King County was in 2004 as a Social Worker for the out-of-school young adults enrolled in our YouthSource program in Renton. I recall my fascination with the size of the team and the innovative and creative programs they were implementing such as Youth Build and Digital Bridge; both aimed to achieve education and employment outcomes to combat income inequalities for this population. The team was incredible at creating a safe and fun place for learning while investing in the development of life skills and relationship building which made it less like a program and more of a community.

2. What is the goal of the Regional Veterans Initiative (RVI)? We have a robust Veteran service delivery system in King County, funded with over $500M annually from all our partners and more than 180 programs and services across the region designed specifically for veterans and their families. The system encompasses outreach and engagement; information and referral; homelessness and housing; education, employment and other benefits; justice system interventions and legal services; and health and behavioral health services. The goal of the RVI is to ensure veterans and their families get to the best resources in the fewest steps and that all the partners are working together toward that goal.

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Job opportunities for veterans ease transition from military

Steve Stamper (center) with King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn (left) and King County Executive Dow Constantine.

Steve Stamper (center) with King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn (left) and King County Executive Dow Constantine.

Making the transition from military to civilian life can be a difficult one for many veterans but finding a meaningful job where they can utilize their skills while learning new ones can ease that transition.

That’s why King County launched the Heroes Employment Reintegration Opportunity (HERO) Program back in 2012.

“Veterans returning from deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan face a job market with high unemployment rates, and a civilian workforce where their valuable skills may not be recognized,” Councilmember Reagan Dunn said. “We have a responsibility to support those who have fought in service to our country. I sponsored legislation for the HERO program, currently called Vets 4 Hire, in an attempt to ease the transition and increase the employment rate of veterans in King County.”

One of those veterans is former Field Artillery Officer Steve Stamper.

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