Equity and Social Justice Committee
Department creates Equity and Social Justice Committee
Equity and Social Justice Initiative
In March 2008, King County Executive Ron Sims launched the Equity and Social Justice Initiative, taking aim at long-standing inequities and injustices in King County. The report shows the close relationship between factors of where we live, the color of our skin, how much money we have and our access to education, health care, and economic opportunities. These factors, in turn, impact health, wellness, and even life expectancy.
Among the findings of the report are these sobering statistics:
- A child in south King County is more than twice as likely to drop out of high school as one in east King County.
- A youth of color is six times more likely than a white youth to spend time in a state or county correctional facility.
The Equity and Social Justice Initiative seeks to identify the roots of these problems and work towards long-term, permanent solutions. The Department of Community and Human Services (DCHS) will focus efforts in three areas:
- Improving access to mental health and substance abuse prevention and treatment services for youth and adults of color
- Improving access to early intervention services for infants and toddlers birth to age three
- Working with the Committee to End Homelessness and other partners to address the disproportionate number of persons of color who are homeless.
Equity and Social Justice Committee - DCHS
To create a work group to learn more about the problems and to promote equity and social justice in all that we do, staff from across DCHS came together to form an Equity and Social Justice Committee (ESJC). In their monthly meetings, the ESJC strives both to increase information and educational opportunities for staff as well as to explore ways to improve DCHs policy and procedures.
ESJC's mission is to encourage, enable, and inspire DCHS and individual employees to promote equity and social justice in all areas of business.
- Provide a variety of informational and educational opportunities to DCHS staff on past and present barriers to equity and social justice (i.e., systemic class, race, and gender biases; effects of past prejudiced policies; problems associated with inappropriate service delivery; etc.)
- Act as a vehicle to provide staff with tools for assessing, developing, and embedding practices and policies into their daily work that promote equity and social justice.
- Support DCHS management team in actively seeking out and promoting policies and decisions aimed at equity and social justice, with the goal of long-term, permanent change.
- Build upon past DCHS efforts related to equity and social justice, particularly that of undoing institutional racism.
- Research and develop an online resource library which explores issues of equity and social justice.
- Alert staff to equity and social justice-related educational events in the community at large.
- Build relationships with other departments on equity and social justice issues, primarily by collaborating on educational events.
Two co-chairs share the leadership role, supported by a planning committee with at least one representative from each DCHS division and site.