DPSS Earns Six National Achievement Awards for Innovation During COVID-19 Pandemic
Six Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) projects have received National Association of Counties (NACo) Achievement Awards that celebrate the agency’s innovative approach to government services.
The department received the exciting news in late May that its digital and virtual community outreach during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic had been awarded in the category of Civic Education and Public Information. Five more projects were awarded for creativity in the category of Information Technology.
“Over the past year, county officials and frontline employees have demonstrated bold, inspirational leadership,” said NACo President Gary Moore. “This year’s Achievement Award winning programs illustrate the innovative ways counties build healthy, safe and vibrant communities across America.”
These DPSS projects were recognized for their innovation during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020:
Community Outreach Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic (Civic Education and Public Information)
When COVID-19 impacted County operations in mid-March 2020, the department provided uninterrupted services to L.A. County’s most vulnerable residents. The department leveraged multiple internal and external digital communication platforms to continue the flow of critical information to the public, broadening the reach of civic engagement efforts and amplifying messaging about available services. The department’s strategic virtual outreach efforts ensured ongoing delivery of vital information to the public, including expanded customer service hours and the availability of on-site paper applications located outside of DPSS district offices.
DPSS Website Redesign (Information Technology)
The department launched a redesigned public-facing website to enhance the online customer experience across multiple channels and devices, making the website more accessible, visually appealing, easier to navigate, and in full compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act requisites and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. The website redesign was implemented with mobility in mind, keeping customers and the public informed.
Customer Service Center Intake (Information Technology)
The Customer Service Center (CSC) Intake Project was launched to offer a new service to County residents by combining technological innovations with Lean Six Sigma process enhancements to provide more application options. CSC Intake staff are trained and equipped with the necessary tools to collaborate with customers to obtain required verifications and apply for benefits in a streamlined application environment. Customers can apply for CalFresh or Medi-Cal benefits over the telephone, and in some cases, obtain approval on the same day. The call centers also incorporated extended weekday service hours and added Saturday hours for customer convenience.
Outbound Text Campaign for Food Giveaways (Information Technology)
DPSS, in collaboration with the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, L.A. Regional Food Bank, and other community organizations, teamed up at the onset of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency to coordinate food giveaway events for families in need across the County. By implementing numerous outbound text campaigns, DPSS was able to deliver critical information in both English and Spanish about local food distribution drives to over 100,000 residents and their families in need. This outreach strategy maximized community participation by providing DPSS customers with information on events taking place in their neighboring communities.
Employee Declaration of Relatives (Information Technology)
In December 2020, DPSS implemented the web-based Employee Declaration of Relatives System (EDRS) to automate the EDR form used by the department to document employee relative declarations in order to identify possible conflicts of interest, situations of interlocking trust, or nepotism in the workplace. The form is completed upon initial hire, new appointment, annual performance evaluation, reassignment, or transfer. The EDRS application was designed with existing technology and did not incur any additional expense.
In-Home Supportive Services Provider Online Orientation (Information Technology)
The In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) Program helps pay for personal care services provided to eligible persons who are 65 years of age or over, legally blind, or disabled adults and children so they can remain safely in their homes. In April 2020, DPSS developed the IHSS Provider Online Orientation Application as an alternative to the in-person orientation required to become an IHSS provider. IHSS providers offer critical services to IHSS recipients and are considered an alternative to nursing homes or board and care facilities. The online orientation streamlined the enrollment process and complied with COVID-19 social distancing requirements.
NACo was founded in 1935 to help strengthen America’s counties and their employees through advocacy and by enriching the public’s understanding of county government. Each year, NACo presents awards in 18 different categories that reflect the wide range of comprehensive services that the nation’s counties provide.
DPSS serves more than 3.5 million residents In L.A. County, administering safety net programs to individuals and families in need.