I am contacting you to inform you of a change in leadership for the Pierce County Council’s Human Services Committee. I will be withdrawing as the new Committee Chair moving to Vice Chair and Council Member Derek Young will take over as Chair.
When I first got on the Council, Human Services was a part of the Public Safety and Human Services Committee. I served on that committee and was stunned to see that Human Services’ topics were limited to one or two meetings a year! I advocated to have more items on the agenda, but it was an uphill battle to compete with Public Safety. After 4 years of requesting to Chair that committee, the Chair established an Ad Hoc Committee on Human Services followed the next year with a Select Committee on Human Services. After one-year the Human Services Committee was established as a full standing committee of the Council.
Over time, Human Services increased its visibility in County government. I am proud that the Committee has addressed many of our social problems bringing forth items that had been ignored in the past, to include but not limited to the HSRI study on the behavioral health system in Pierce County, the startup and growth of MCIRT along with support of MOCT, forming a task force on the Opioid epidemic, the formation of the Birth to 25 Council and Help Me Grow, monitoring the integration of behavioral health substance use and physical health, addressing the release of patients from Western State Hospital, and continued support of prevention services. These efforts will continue.
The work goes on. We continue to work on housing and homelessness, services for our veterans and our seniors. The impact of COVID on our non-profits is of concern. The current focus and discussions on the re-focusing of police departments will undoubtedly have an effect on Human Services and we will likely move away from the police responding to behaviors that are better dealt with by human service providers.
I will be leaving the Council at the end of the year. I have worked hard to establish and formalize Human Services. I feel that it is important that this work continues and is strengthened. I believe that a strong transition needs to take place between me and the next Chair. I have chosen to ease out of this position while still working in partnership with Councilmember Young to ensure that at the start of the new year, he is fully up to speed to lead the Committee. We currently work closely on several issues and I have full confidence in his ability to make Human Services even stronger in Pierce County. I ask that you give him your full support.
In closing, I want to thank you for your dedication to our community through the work you do every day. Working in this role and with you has been a privilege. I have learned so much about your work and even more about social problems and their impacts on people and community. It has been an honor to be in service to you.
Pierce County Council, District 4