Honoring our veterans and ending veteran homelessness

King County Executive Dow Constantine

King County Executive Dow Constantine

Dear fellow King County employee,

Each year, we pause as a grateful nation on November 11 to salute the men and women who answered the call to serve in our nation’s armed forces. Of the 122,000 veterans of all ages who call King County home, I am proud to say that 931 of them are our fellow King County employees, including 27 who were called to active duty over the past year.

Along with our respect and appreciation, we best honor their service through our actions. Through our King County Veterans Program and the voter-approved Veterans and Human Services Levy, we are helping local veterans and their families to transition home successfully – with counseling, case management, employment and training programs, and more.

But our greatest challenge is the number of veterans who have come home to homelessness. I signed on to the White House Challenge to End Veterans Homelessness and so far this year, with our partners at All Home, we have housed 717 formerly homeless veterans. To reach our goal by the end of the year that no veteran be homeless, we must find housing for the last among them, including 310 who have the ticket to ending homelessness in their hands today: a rental voucher. We need landlords who value what our veterans have contributed and who will accept that voucher. If you or anyone you know can help by dedicating just one unit to house a local veteran, please contact the WelcomeOneHome Program at 206-336-4616.

Even one homeless veteran is one too many. Let us come together as a community to ensure that every King County veteran has a home in time for the holidays. Thank you.

Sincerely,

dow signature

Dow Constantine

King County Executive

It’s Official! Happy Volunteer Appreciation Day

Post by @iheartkcparks.

Source: It’s Official! Happy Volunteer Appreciation Day

Employees earned the public trust needed to pass Best Starts for Kids

King County Executive Dow Constantine

King County Executive Dow Constantine

Dear fellow King County employee,

Based on the latest vote count, it appears that voters have approved the Best Starts for Kids levy! We now have the opportunity to help put more children and youth in King County on a path toward lifelong success.

It’s a victory you helped make possible. Voters approve initiatives only if they believe we are effective stewards of taxpayer dollars. This vote is a reflection of the public trust we’ve earned, and it demonstrates that they appreciate the positive difference we make in people’s lives – and want us to do more.

We will apply the same outcome-focused, performance-based approach we’ve championed the past six years so that, when the levy expires in six years, we can continue to build on the public trust that provided us this opportunity.

Now, we have the chance to finally do what we’ve been talking about for years – invest in less expensive, more effective upstream solutions to some of our greatest challenges, such as mental illness, addiction, homelessness and incarceration. By working with community-based nonprofit organizations, we will expand access to prevention and early intervention services to deliver better outcomes.

I believe this will be another example of King County creating a successful, innovative model that is replicated in other metropolitan regions.

There are other jurisdictions in the United States that invest in early childhood development, most commonly preschool programs. What distinguishes our approach is that it invests throughout a child’s life to support healthy brain development, from before birth through age 24. It also invests in communities to ensure that the place where a child grows up reinforces progress.

I’m excited about what we will achieve by working together to turn science into action, and ensure that every child in our region reaches adulthood healthy and able to achieve his or her full potential in life.

Thank you for helping make this possible.

Sincerely,

dow signature

Dow Constantine

King County Executive

Goodbye Mainframe, Hello Data

On Monday, November 2, King County IT shut down and turned off the aging King County mainframe (think extra-large refrigerator-sized, pre-PC computer), an important step in Executive Constantine’s goal of making King County a best-run government.

This was truly a historic occasion, and marked the final ‘go-live’ stage of a multi-year Mainframe Rehosting Project.

To give some context, a mainframe is not a machine built for everyday workload; it is designed to run big, complex jobs. King County’s mainframe was being used for large-volume critical business applications such as property tax payments and DAJD booking and referral transactions, yet it was running on 1970’s technology.

mainframe_rehost

So what was accomplished? The project team moved 25+ million mainframe records to a modern platform and re-wrote the programs in a language that integrates with other system. They tested and retested to ensure that no data was lost, and rehosted it in the county’s virtual environment.

Now that the mainframe is off, KCIT has significantly reduced the risk of downtime and increased the ability to support new business requirements like data analytics. Better information means more options and transparency in decision-making.

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Open Enrollment is on Nov. 1 – 15

Open Enrollment for your 2016 King County benefits takes place Nov. 1 – 15. This is your opportunity to evaluate your benefit choices and select the right options for you and your family for next year.

Learn about your 2016 benefits

Your benefits package was designed with your continued health, financial security, and well-being in mind. Use the following resources to learn about your 2016 benefits—and what’s changing for next year:

  • Open Enrollment mailer sent to your home
  • King County Open Enrollment web page
  • Recorded phone messages about important benefit topics: 1-800-347-8046

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Celebrating 10 years of helping youth with disabilities find jobs

With more than 1,100 students served over 10 years, King County’s School-to-Work program has plenty of reasons to celebrate.SchooltoWork capture
On October 12, 2015, as part of National Disability Employment Awareness month, the Department of Community and Human Services Developmental Disabilities Division celebrated 10 successful years of the program and 1,136 students served by hosting a gathering of partners and stakeholders at the Southcenter Double Tree.
“The School-to-Work Program helps youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities throughout King County seek and gain employment prior to exiting their high school transition programs,” Richard Wilson, School-to-Work Project/Program Manager, said. “With a 73% job start rate, and over half of all students who obtained employment still working, School-to-Work’s employment rate is nearly five times higher at graduation for students served versus those who did not enroll in the program.”

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Breaking down job barriers for people with disabilities

October is Disability Awareness Month and King County is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and 25 years of hiring people with developmental disabilities into the work place.

In 1990, the King County Council created the Supported Employment Program in response to the issue of employment inequity for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Supported Employment Program matches job seekers with developmental disabilities to jobs by identifying efficiencies and unmet needs throughout King County government.

One of those employees is Brooke, a mail clerk with King County Council, who has been with the County for 17 years. Brooke is featured in a new video produced by King County TV.


“I think we learn a lot from Brooke, not just about the administrative job but it’s a reminder to us that people with developmental disabilities have something to contribute, and having her working in an environment with the elected officials is really powerful because we see every day what people with developmental disabilities can accomplish and contribute,” Councilmember Dave Upthegrove said.

Employment is a key way to participate in the community and build wealth, skills, and self-confidence; unfortunately, individuals with disabilities continue to have many barriers to work opportunities and high unemployment rates.

“I think that all of us should have an opportunity to work and to be productive in society and be a part of society,” Brooke said.

Participating in the Supported Employment Program is a great way to change lives, create more inclusive workplaces and improve the employment statistics of people with disabilities. Contact Christina Davidson, the Supported Employment Program Manager, to start developing opportunities for job seekers with developmental disabilities.

Watch the video.

Five Questions with Emmanuel Rivera, Health & Environmental Investigator III, Natural Resources & Parks

Emmanuel Rivera1. What was your first role at King County? My first role at King County involved working within the Local Hazardous Waste Management Program (LHWMP) as a Health and Environmental Investigator.  As part of the Survey Team,  I did business cold calls throughout King County regarding proper use, storage and disposal of hazardous products and waste.

2. What do you do as a Health and Environmental Investigator? As an HE&I III, I am currently the outreach coordinator for LHWMP’s Indoor Chemical Hazards project.  My primary function is to provide outreach to underserved communities regarding cleaning products with the goal of reducing exposure to and use of harsh cleaning chemicals. The outreach relies on building relations with community organizations, participating in networking group meetings, tabling at community events, and providing Cleaning with Caution workshops.

3. What sort of training is needed for the job? Because the cleaning outreach efforts involve communities with unique cultures and languages, my training involves attending specific cultural competency workshops when available and learning from community partners and advocates.  Training in equity and social justice is also necessary to be effective and successful in working with the target audience and in building community relations.

Continue reading →

Get to know four participants in 2015 Annual Giving Drive

dudley_0Whether your passion is protecting animals, improving literacy, preventing hunger, helping seniors or young people, or supporting the arts, there are more than 930 participating nonprofit organizations that you can choose to contribute to in the 2015 Annual Giving Drive, which kicked off October 5. Click here to make a pledge.

Meet four of this year’s participating nonprofits below (see full list of participating nonprofits here):

Cowgirl Spirit Equine Rescue (9406) shelters, rehabilitates, and rehomes unwanted and slaughter-bound horses. Located in Carnation, Washington, its horses are cared for by an all-volunteer staff and supported entirely by donors.

Maple Valley Food Bank and Emergency Services (9269) provides food and emergency services to residents in its service area and aims to educate, empower and engage the community in solving issues of hunger and nutrition. Its long-term goals are to increase client ability to meet other financial obligations, significantly reduce the likelihood of homelessness, help families stay together through difficult times, improve nutrition and reduce hunger.

The Mockingbird Society (9177) trains young people who have been homeless or in foster care to be their own best advocates. By doing so, they change policies and perceptions that stand in the way of every child having a safe and stable home. Its family programs advocate for innovation in the way services, such as foster care, are delivered. By creating supportive systems of care, youth thrive while developing lasting connections to support their successful transition to adulthood.

Northwest Kidney Centers (9121) is a nonprofit, community-based organization with a mission to promote the optimal health, quality of life and independence of people with kidney disease through patient care, education and research. It provided 247,254 dialysis treatments in 2014 alone, for 1,544 patients who chose to dialyze in one of its centers or at home.

Find out more about all of the 930 nonprofit organizations participating in this year’s Annual Giving Drive, and click here to make a pledge.

How Metro Transit helped employees make leap from driver to chief

Helping employees grow in their King County careers is a key objective of the Best-Run Government: Employees initiative and Metro Transit recently piloted an intensive program to help employees make the leap from bus operator to base chief.

Transit’s Human Resources group built a process that recognized the skills of existing employees and helped them highlight their skills in the recruitment process.

“We were understanding that we had a very well-qualified, diverse, talented pool of employees,” said Susan Eddy, Human Resources Service Deliver Manager with Metro Transit. “However when you took a look at those employees, resume writing has changed over the course of the years, interviewing skills have changed over the course of the years, and these employees have been dedicated to their job tasks not necessarily dedicated to padding their resumes.”

Transit HR worked with resources across the County to provide potential applicants for one of seven Base Chief positions with support such as resume writing and interview skills.

Watch this short video to learn more about the process and meet one of the successful candidates.

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