People helping people live better lives.
To reduce poverty and connect people and communities to opportunities for health and wellness.
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) employs approximately 1,070 people and provides direct services to more than 35,000 residents every year. Indirectly, everyone in the county benefits at one time or another from DHHS services, including restaurant inspections, water safety programs, immunizations, and employment training.
DHHS has received national recognition for its integrated services model. It is one of 11 counties in California authorized to operate in this manner.
In 1999, after enabling legislation was passed by the state, Humboldt County began merging Mental Health, Public Health, and Social Services into one department. This allows us to operate efficiently and cost-effectively, and to provide a “no wrong door” approach to the people we serve.
Family & Community Partners
The department is working with community partners to further decentralize services. We currently contract with 15 Family and Community Resource centers throughout the county to provide necessary services to people within the context of their own communities. There are new efforts to strengthen families, improve children’s safety, support recovery, and help adults achieve self-sufficiency.
DHHS completed its most recent Strategic Plan in 2018. The first plan was created in 1999 as part of the integration process and laid out a clear path toward integrating the three departments into one. This most recent plan is broad and helps identify the department’s goals and priorities. See the plan below.
Strategic Plan 2018
Achieving our Mission
Strengthening the foundation to get things done by using the department’s Operating Principles to guide decision-making.
Measure what matters
• Use data to define problems and consider solutions
• Measure success of interventions using data
• Share data with staff, community and partners.
• As effective stewards of public funds, maximize impact through efficient,
cost-effective programs and services
• Leverage partnerships to maximize community benefit.
Use the right tools the right way
• Align tools, processes and policy to the mission and vision
• Draft procedures that are meaningful to the user
• Streamline processes to help us meet our mandates
• Involve the people closest to the work.
Focusing on Prevention
Promoting equitable opportunities for health and wellness in communities through prevention and early intervention, and using data to inform decision-making.
• Use population health data to identify and understand leading health
• Examine disparities in health data to effectively prioritize and target
strategies to promote health equity
• Compile and share data through a regular Community Health Assessment.
Adopt a collective impact approach
• Work with partners to develop a mutual action plan to improve community
health, implement and monitor progress.
Move strategies upstream
• Work to reduce the need for crisis services
• Prioritize prevention and early intervention strategies that build resilience
• Support solutions to the root causes of poor health
• Work in partnership to identify and implement strategies from all bands of
the Spectrum of Prevention, including:
1. Strengthening individual knowledge and skills
2. Promoting community education
3. Educating providers
4. Fostering coalitions and networks
5. Changing organizational practices
6. Influencing policy and legislation.
• Collective Impact brings people together in a structured way to achieve
social change. Health equity means that everyone has a fair and just
opportunity to be as healthy as possible. This requires removing obstacles
to health such as poverty, discrimination, lack of access to good jobs with
fair pay, quality education and housing, safe environments and health
People Helping People
Providing accessible, culturally responsive services to all regions of the county.
Improve service delivery
• Seek opportunities for innovation to increase the effectiveness of
poverty-reducing programs that promote self-sufficiency and recovery
• Develop trauma-informed programs and staff to effectively address
adverse childhood experiences
• Continue commitment to the use of evidence-based practices.
Strengthen relationships with Tribal and other government entities
• Use and model Humboldt Practice Model values in our interactions
• Explore the development of working agreements with Tribal governments
• Leverage partnerships and resources to strengthen housing security
• Continue decentralizing services throughout the county, co-locating with
partners, to meet community-identified needs in culturally responsive
The Humboldt Practice Model values: honesty, transparency and trust; fairness and equity; and accountability and results.
Supporting a Healthy and Engaged Workforce
Increasing job satisfaction and connection to the mission:
• Develop and utilize leadership at all levels
• Link and support teams across DHHS
• Create opportunities to build a culture of inclusion, teaming, respect,
appreciation and recognition
• Support professional development
• Develop leadership skills and capacity of staff
• Improve on-boarding of new employees, so that each individual is aware of
their connection and role with each other, the agency and the community
• Develop a system to ensure staff receive ongoing training
• Maintain adequate levels of staffing to enable the work to be done
• Develop specific approaches of succession planning at all levels
• Participate in communitywide efforts to recruit, retain and “grow our own”
• Explore ways to improve career mobility for employees.
Broaden and deepen communication
• Connect communications to the mission and vision of the organization
• Create feedback loops with staff.
Prioritize workforce wellness
• Explore ways to measure workplace wellness
• Implement practices that promote wellness and a culture of mutual support
• Identify and adopt principles of a trauma-informed agency that addresses
secondary trauma of staff.