DPSS News - August 2020

MESSAGE FROM THE DIRECTOR Dear DPSS Team: A new school year is under way and most students are returning to online classrooms. Distance learning is challenging enough for children who

COUNTY DECLARES RACISM A PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS T he Board of Supervisors earlier this month unanimously agreed that racism is a public health crisis in Riverside County and vowed to take steps to deal with the issue.

The 5-0 vote took place after supervisors heard f rom several communi ty members who supported the resolution, which indicated that “systemic racism causes persistent racial d i s c r imi na t i on i n hous i ng , educa t i on , employment, transportation, and criminal justice.” “America is blessed with incredible diversity that makes us unique and is one of our strengths. But systemic racism in our country continues to limit opportunities for communities of color in ways that damage physical and mental health even across generations,” said Supervisor Chuck Washington, Third District. “The time to address health disparities is long overdue.” Among the planned actions in the resolution, supervisors agreed to seek more diversity in the county’s workforce and in leadership positions; implement solutions to eliminate systemic inequality in all external services provided by the county; and enhance public education to increase understanding and awareness of systemic inequality and its impact.

have the resources they need to succeed. For at-risk and foster youth, the barriers are often heightened by poverty, household instability and a lack of resources. We are coordinating with school districts and community partners to identify vulnerable students and ensure they receive support to keep pace academically and stay safe in a remote environment. To be sure, this effort takes a village. Our community partners are crucial to helping our children and youth find stability and resiliency in their journeys. I had the honor of attending the Riverside County Bar Assoc i a t i on ’ s ce r emony t o r ecogn i ze t he accomplishments of two foster youth who had been at the brink of failing or dropping out of high school. Project Graduate works with social workers to pair academically at-risk foster youth with long-term volunteer mentors who guide these students to graduation. Seeing a young woman heading to the university of her dreams and a 19-year old shedding tears for becoming the first in his family to graduate; these are the rich rewards of our work. They reflect the heart of our organization and the volunteers who are committed to helping our youth create brighter futures for themselves. We have many reasons to be optimistic about the future despite the challenging times. The Riverside County Board of Supervisors recently declared that racism is a public health crisis. The declaration recognizes the harm that racism has inflicted on generations of Black and Brown lives and the social disparities that have resulted. The Board will soon begin holding community listening sessions countywide. We will be at the table listening and learning, too. We also want to hear from you. Please plan to participate in a short survey that will be coming out this month to assess workplace satisfaction. Your input wi l l help us identify opportunities for improvement and growth. Thank you, as always, for continuing to focus on our customers as we navigate the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic together. Sayori Baldwin, Director

SUPERVISOR WASHINGTON, DISTRICT 3

SUPERVISOR PEREZ, DISTRICT 4

“This action reaffirms our commitment to address the health disparities among communities of color,” said Kim Saruwatari, director or Riverside University Healthy System - Public Health. “Systemic racism impacts communities at so many levels and the effects can be devastating.” The board also voted 5-0 in a separate agenda item to hold workshops, including listening sessions with the community and meetings among the board and county department heads. The workshops will focus on county services and budget priorities, including public safety, behavioral health and social services. “In the spirit of civil rights giant, Congressman John Lewis, I am proud of today’s historical vote within Riverside County to advance social justice, equity and community empowerment,” said Riverside County Board Chair and Fourth District Supervisor V. Manuel Perez. “Today, we passed two major efforts to fight racism and have listening sessions to look at how we fund and re-fund safety net services and meet the social needs of our communities.” (Article courtesy of Riverside County Executive Office)

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RIVERSIDE COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SOCIAL SERVICES

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