Department of Social and Health Services in Olympia.

OLYMPIA — The Department of Social & Health Services’ Economic Services Administration has been awarded a grant for $500,000 from The Kresge Foundation as part of their Next Generation initiative.  This grant supports the agency’s strategic goal to reduce poverty by half in 2025 in a way that eliminates disparities. 

DSHS co-leads Gov. Jay Inslee’s Poverty Reduction Workgroup, which is preparing a 10-year strategic plan to reduce poverty due Dec. 1.

The NextGen Initiative invests in organizations throughout the country advancing the social and economic mobility of kids and families. The funding will allow DSHS to make a deeper investment with community partners dedicated to building whole person, equity driven health and human services in their region.

“This is an incredible opportunity to improve services for more than a half-million children living in families that struggle to make ends meet in Washington state,” Inslee said. “I am grateful to The Kresge Foundation for their support and proud of the role DSHS is playing to make Washington state a place where every child, family and community can reach their full potential.”

In spite of a strong economy, social and economic mobility is increasingly difficult for many Washingtonians, according to DSHS officials. Recent research shows the share of children in Washington state earning more than their parents has fallen substantially – in 1940, for example, 92 percent of children earned more than their parents; by 1980, just 46 percent did.

Today, one in four (26 percent) Washingtonians live below 200 percent of the federal poverty level – $42,660 for a family of three – but cost-of-living measures show it takes well more than that to make ends meet in nearly every county in the state.

The vast network of state and local health and human service organizations play a critical role in stabilizing individuals and families struggling to get by, and provide on-ramps to education, employment and training, and other resources so Washingtonians can get ahead. 

The NextGen Initiative will support stronger partnerships between DSHS, its agency partners, and community-based organizations to modernize and strengthen service delivery across sectors and systems.

 “As the foremost experts on how to build social and economic opportunity and well-being for their residents, community partners are essential to our poverty reduction goals and improving the delivery of health and human services,” said David Stillman,  assistant secretary for the DSHS Economic Services Administration. 

DSHS joins nine other nonprofit, private and public sector human services organizations advancing the social and economic mobility of children and families around the country in this two-year learning program.

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