DES Direct From Clarence Carter

Academic Advisory Board Returns to Phoenix

(Process Improvement, Person-Centric, Community Partnerships) Permanent link

11/14/2013 

Academic Advisory Board Returns to Phoenix

This week, the third convening of the Academic Advisory Board (AAB) is taking place here in Phoenix.  As I've discussed previously in my blog, the AAB was formed to support our Transformation efforts by advising DES on key issues related to the Demonstration Project.  This group of professors brings their respective areas of academic expertise, which includes extensive research and practice in both the public and private sectors.  For some, this academic partnership represents the first close encounter with the administration of the safety net system.  

At this week's convening, the AAB will visit two DES offices where it will have the opportunity to meet our hardworking staff and learn what the workday consists of, as well as the challenges experienced and their thoughts on the Demonstration.  The site visits will also include a focus group discussion with DES consumers to gather input on the Demonstration Project that launched last month.  This visit will help the Board members who are new to human services gain a deeper understanding of the work we do on a daily basis and help inform their contribution to the Department's Transformation efforts.

In addition to visiting DES offices, the Board will receive an update on our progress to date on several aspects of the Demonstration, engage in a dialogue about this work and hear some of the challenges and lessons we've learned so far.  This discussion will also include our ideas around the metrics that will be used to gauge the effectiveness of growing the capacity of safety net users through the use of the person-centric engagement model.  I look forward to this discourse as it promises to be both lively and thought-provoking as we work together on tackling the challenges ahead. 

Sincerely,

Clarence H. Carter
Director

Honoring Arizona's Veterans

(Community Partnerships) Permanent link

11/08/2013 

Honoring Arizona's Veterans

If you walk into a DES Employment Administration (EA) office today, you may see a lot of our staff wearing red shirts.  This year, the EA staff adopted the mission of "Red Shirt Fridays" to honor and remember servicemen and women, past and present.  This is especially pertinent at this time of year as our nation celebrates Veterans Day on November 11, a day when we recognize our veterans for their sacrifice and dedication to our country and the freedoms afforded to us.  

Since October of last year, Local Veteran Employment Representatives (LVERs), Disabled Veteran Outreach Programs (DVOPs) and Employment Service staff have assisted 15,891 veterans and other eligible persons in Arizona.  The focus of these efforts is to help find jobs for our honorable veterans.  Sometimes this includes helping them with job training or counseling before they are ready to work.  Other times assistance may include helping them make connections with employers who are looking to hire.

Over the past 12 months, DES staff members have participated in 96 veteran-focused job fairs, 18 Hire Our Heroes events and 26 Yellow Ribbon events, where returning soldiers are offered employment services.  Next week, DES will host Veterans Hiring Events on Thursday, November 14, 2013 at four locations across the state.  Information on these job fairs can be found on the DES website (160 KB PDF).

Because veterans are at higher risk for becoming homeless, DES also works with many community partners to develop, coordinate and run "StandDown" events around the state.  In the military, a StandDown afforded battle-weary soldiers the opportunity to withdraw from a state of readiness or alert in order to renew their spirit, health and overall sense of well-being.  Today's StandDown efforts afford this same type of opportunity to homeless veterans.

StandDown is a grassroots, community-based intervention program designed to help the nation's estimated 62,619 homeless veterans who have spent at least one night in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program in a recent year.  Homeless and at-risk military veterans gather together in a single location for one to three days and are provided access to a range of services and other community resources to address what they need to begin rebuilding their lives and regain their highest level of independence.

This year, DES employees have assisted 2,203 veterans at StandDown events in Phoenix, Tucson, Prescott, Yuma and Casa Grande.

The sacrifices made by our veterans and their families remain largely unseen by our community.  It then becomes important that we take every opportunity to express our gratitude to these men and women who have served our country by supporting them in their time of need.  I would like to express my thanks to DES staff who go above and beyond each day to serve these incredible individuals.

On Veterans Day, say thank you to the veterans in your life!

Sincerely,

Clarence H. Carter
Director

Need for adoptive families grows in Arizona

(Foster Care and Adoption, Community Partnerships) Permanent link

11/07/2013 

Need for adoptive families grows in Arizona

When it becomes necessary for children to enter our system, finding a safe and loving home becomes critical to that child's sense of stability and future growth.  In situations when it is no longer possible for children to return to their birth families it is then in their best interest to find a forever family.  The statistics tell us that one in five children living in out-of-home care in Arizona is in need of a new forever home.  

This month, DES joins with Governor Jan Brewer in recognizing November as Arizona Adoption Month (839 KB PDF) and acknowledging the importance of finding safe and nurturing families through adoption.  There are many Adoption Day events scheduled throughout the month in Cochise and Graham Counties, Florence, Phoenix, Prescott, Tucson and Yuma.  Hundreds of adoptions will be finalized, meaning hundreds of children will have forever families!

It has been my experience that adoptive parents have a special calling.  They serve as the primary source of love, identity, self-esteem and support for Arizona's children.  The decision to become an adoptive parent isn't an easy one to make and requires a level of commitment as well as a desire to make a difference in someone's life.  While there is a need for foster and adoptive parents for children of all ages, the greatest need in Arizona is for older children, sibling groups and children with special needs.

Arizona recently received recognition from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for its efforts to find adoptive homes for children in out-of-home care.  DES was awarded for exceeding the requirements in the number of children leaving foster care through a finalized adoption, the number of older children (age nine and older) leaving foster care through a finalized adoption and the number of special needs children, under age nine, leaving foster care through a finalized adoption.

As of March 31, 2013, 1,270 children left the Arizona foster care system through adoption in the preceding six months with 22 percent of those children being over the age of nine.  Of the 14,314 children in out-of-home care on that same date, 2,852 had a case plan goal of adoption.  Through the work of many, 1,825 children have found new homes.  However, 1,027 children are still awaiting their own personal forever family.  For adolescents approaching adulthood, we saw 381 teens age out of the system during this same time period.  We are making progress.  Unfortunately, more forever homes continue to be a need for too many of Arizona's children.

DES' efforts to recruit new adoptive homes have been bolstered recently through the work of the Children's Heart GalleryExternal Link Icon and collaborations with groups like Wendy's Wonderful KidsExternal Link Icon, the ArizonaSERVES Task Force and other community and faith-based organizations. 

The Department's ultimate goal for children in foster care is permanent placement in a safe and nurturing environment.  If you are interested in becoming a foster or adoptive family, please visit the DES website or call 1-877-KIDS-NEEDU (1-877-543-7633). 

Sincerely,

Clarence H. Carter
Director

Creating community partnerships key to helping Arizona families

(Process Improvement, Foster Care and Adoption, Community Partnerships) Permanent link

11/01/2013

Creating community partnerships key to helping Arizona families

Each year, more than three thousand families open up their hearts and homes to children living in out-of-home care. I recognize that being a foster parent is not an easy job and we are extremely grateful for the amazing families who go above and beyond to serve these beautiful children. 

Supporting Arizona's children cannot be done by the Department of Economic Security (DES) alone. It takes a community to care for families and children who need our help.  That's why I was encouraged when Magellan Health Services of Arizona approached me recently with an idea to create a Foster Care Tool Kit, an informational resource guide for current and prospective foster parents throughout the state. The tool kit includes information to help foster parents connect with community resources like child care, health services, mental health services, clothing and more. 

DES and Magellan teamed up to design and print more than 2,400 copies of the tool kit.  Anyone interested in receiving a copy or in becoming a foster parent can visit the DES website or call 1-877- KIDS-NEEDU (1-877-543-7633). 

Public-private partnerships like this one with Magellan are vitally important to serve the children in our care.  I am very grateful for their generosity and foresight to help us fill a need for our foster families.  The Foster Care Tool Kit is but one resource as there are many ways community and faith-based organizations can tap into the work we are doing to help Arizona's children and families.  Providing a hot meal to a busy family or transportation to and from the grocery store or doctor's office are other thoughtful gestures we can extend to our neighbors. 

I've always said that the government doesn't have all the answers. We don't and that's why we need YOUR help. I ask that you consider what you or your organization can do to help make a difference in the lives of family, friends and neighbors.  When we partner together we can have a greater impact.

Sincerely,

Clarence H. Carter
Director

DES Transformation goes to Harvard

 Permanent link

10/23/2013

DES Transformation goes to Harvard 

Each year, the American business industry expends billions of dollars on research and development.  Much of that spending is aimed at the discovery of new and innovative approaches.  While it could be a concept like a breakthrough drug treatment, a new technological application or renewable energy sources, business industry experts invest significant energy and resources into finding the next "big thing." 

In the massive day-to-day grind of the American safety net system that serves more than 45 million Americans daily, there is perilous little time and even less money for the kind of research and development the business world employs.  This is a significant detriment to our national efforts. 

In its infancy, there is one small safety net research and development effort that is now in its 4th year. Each October, the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) partners with Accenture and Harvard University to bring together 70 human services leaders from across the country to dialogue and build a vision around the future of the American safety net.  This year, the effort to reinvent the Arizona safety net system will be one of the agenda items showcased at this summit.  In addition to further raising the profile of our ambitious efforts here in Arizona, our model will also benefit from the critical thinking of some of the most innovative minds in the safety net programs and agencies field. 

While there is precious little research and development time and money in the American safety net system, Arizona is pleased to take advantage of what little there is to help us shape the future of service to those in need of safety net supports. 

The work continues....

Sincerely,

Clarence H. Carter
Director

 

Partnering with Arizona's Tribes to Reinvent the Safety Net

(Process Improvement, Person-Centric) Permanent link

10/11/2013

Partnering with Arizona's Tribes to Reinvent the Safety Net  

As an East Coast native, it's been life-changing for me the past two years to experience Arizona and its rich American Indian history and culture.  Arizona is comprised of 22 Indian Nations and Tribes and the Department of Economic Security (DES) works with each one through our Tribal Relations Liaison on a variety of human services issues.  I recently had the distinct pleasure of meeting with the Tribal Governments of Arizona to discuss reinvention of the Arizona safety net.

The meeting provided an excellent opportunity for us to discuss improved government-to-government coordination with Arizona's tribes and elaborate on the services DES has to offer on a variety of human services issues.  This vibrant conversation proves to me that regular engagement between the Arizona tribal governments and DES will benefit all Arizonans. 

According to a recent United States Census Bureau report, Arizona's poverty rate stood at 18.7 percent in 2012, well above the 15.9 percent national average, putting us eighth highest among states.  Media reports surmise the problem may stem from the high unemployment rate or lack of resources to help families in need.  Those may be a part of the problem, but we believe another important part of the problem is that the safety net system for all Americans does not intentionally focus its services around families in need in a way that will help them to rise above their circumstances.  This lack of intentional design in our system only serves to hurt the very poorest among us.

Changing the design is one of the key principles of the ongoing DES Transformation.  Many Arizona tribes are working to combat the issue of poverty as well, so I wanted to bring the DES Transformation message directly to them and ask for their partnership and expertise in moving this work forward.  Their influence in effecting this radical change to the Arizona safety net is critical, not only in changing how the safety net delivers its services, but also crucial to alleviating poverty across all cultures statewide.

At the core, the DES Transformation is about creating an Arizona safety net community that comes together toward the common goal of growing the capacity of individuals in need and helping to reduce dependency on public supports.  I look forward to future discussions and opportunities for partnership and collaboration with the Arizona Tribes and Nations.

Sincerely,

Clarence H. Carter
Director

 

Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Community support is critical

(Process Improvement, Aging And Adult Services) Permanent link

  10/07/2013 

Domestic Violence Awareness Month:  Community support is critical 

Not long ago, a young woman appeared on the doorstep of a Maricopa County domestic violence shelter, pregnant with two small children in tow.  This woman, we'll call her "Janie," had just left an abusive relationship and had nowhere else to turn.  She was close to finishing her college degree, but knew she would not be able to support her three children on her own.  Welcomed with open arms, Janie was invited to stay at the program's emergency shelter and later moved into transitional housing.

Janie's story is not unique and needs to be told in order to raise awareness of the prevalence of domestic violence in our society.  October has been designated Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  This is an issue that knows no boundaries and affects families of all ethnicities and economic backgrounds.

In Arizona, every five minutes, a law enforcement officer responds to a domestic violence call and every 39 minutes, one or more children witness a domestic violence incident, according to the Maricopa Association of Governments.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 70 percent of domestic violence cases go unreported.

 Chart: Arizona Adult Protective Services Inquiries and Reports SFY 2009-2013

Of those that are reported, many are fielded by DES' Adult Protective Services (APS), within the Division of Aging and Adult Services.  APS is responsible for investigating abuse, neglect and exploitation of vulnerable adults age 18 and older. Over the past few years, APS has seen a dramatic increase in the number of reports. Most recently, between July 2012 and June 2013, the program received 16,635 calls and investigated 11,161 cases of adult abuse, neglect or exploitation in Arizona. This is a 27 percent increase in the total number of cases over the same time period last year.  A projected increase of 20 percent or more is expected over the next fiscal year.

DES also contracts with many community-based organizations throughout Arizona to provide a combination of residential and non-residential services to victims of domestic violence and their families.  These services include emergency shelter, transitional housing, community-based individual and group counseling, case management and legal advocacy.

In 2013, these agencies provided 331,000 days of safety in emergency shelters.  The agencies also helped 322 families to obtain transitional housing which will allow them to spend up to two years in a supportive and safe environment while they are achieving their economic and vocational goals. 

More than 31,000 hours of counseling, case management and legal advocacy were provided in the community to victims that are still living in their homes or in other supportive environments. 

With the help of services like these, Janie was able to secure a place to live, finish school and find a job to support herself and her children.  Everyone plays a role in preventing domestic violence.  If you suspect someone may be a victim, let them know about services available through DES and the Arizona Domestic Violence Coalition.

For more information, visit the  DES Domestic Violence Program website.

Sincerely,

Clarence H. Carter
Director

  

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