New DSHS Secretary Named – see letter from Governor

Dear Department of Social and Health Services employees:


Today I want to tell you how much I appreciate the tremendous job Susan Dreyfus has done as Secretary of the Department of Social and Health Services for the past two and a half years, and to tell you how delighted I am that her predecessor, Robin Arnold-Williams, has agreed to come back to serve as DSHS Secretary.


As you know, this is one of the most challenging leadership positions in Washington state government.  And both Robin and Susan have proved to be more than up to the task.


I am grateful that Susan moved 2,000 miles from her home and family to help lead us through the most challenging economic crisis any of us have experienced in our careers in public service. She did so with determination, enthusiasm and optimism that reminded us to keep our heads up and our eyes focused on the future.


I’m also grateful to Robin for stepping up again.  As many of you already know, she too brings her own special brand of leadership to the department.  When it comes to human services, few leaders are as knowledgeable or dynamic as Robin.  I learned that first hand when Robin served as DSHS Secretary from March of 2005 until December of 2008, when she became the Director of my Executive Policy Office.


From there, she joined Leavitt Partners as a Senior Advisor.  Leavitt Partners was founded by Mike Leavitt, who served as Governor of Utah, Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection agency and as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  Robin served on Governor Leavitt’s Cabinet as Director of the Utah State Department of Human Resources from 1997 through 2004, before coming to DSHS here in Washington.


As secretary, Robin will skillfully help continue to transition the Department and all of you who have worked so hard to serve our state’s most vulnerable residents though these difficult economic times.


I want to thank each of you – dedicated public servants – for your patient, gracious willingness to keep moving forward.


Please join me in thanking Susan for her service to the people of Washington and in congratulating and supporting Robin as she takes on this familiar but nonetheless challenging job.





Please Ask DSHS and DDD These Questions!

This letter was sent to all Washington State Legislators and many other advocates.  I do hope that these questions are asked and that answers are received.


december 1 letter to legislator and others


The Department of Social and Health Services and the Division of Developmental Disabilities NEED to answer these questions and more.  The data that they continually present to our legislators is flawed and incomplete and doesn’t tell the whole story as it needs to be told in order to make policy decisions.


This is who we need to ask questions of:

DSHS – Aging and Disability Services Administration Tree

Susan N. Dreyfus, Secretary

Department of Social &  Health Services


Don Clintsman

Division of Developmental  Disabilities

Aging & Disability  Services Admin



Janet Adams

Office of Quality Assurance and Self Directed Services



We Cannot Afford to Allow DSHS to Waste More Money

The mismanagement of our Department of Social and Health Services never ceases to amaze me.  When I started researching the Washington State Auditor’s reports and realized how many millions of dollars DSHS was costing our state, I was appalled.  I am continually amazed at the department and the lack of integrity and mismanagement that is apparent throughout the services.  It’s not only dollars that are wasted but vulnerable people are being hurt.

With all the budget cuts, and many of those cuts affecting more and more people, some worse than others, it is time for DSHS to get a grip of their programs and manage them and the personnel responsibly.

October 7, 2011

Dear Colleagues, Partners and tribal and community leaders:

We wanted you to be aware of a story that is scheduled to run Monday night on KING TV, reported by Susannah Frame, on employees who spent lengthy stays on home assignment while under investigation for alleged improper or illegal conduct. One Department of Social and Health Services employee at the Special Commitment Center was on home assignment (paid administrative leave) for 3½ years.

Important things to know about this story:

1.       The SCC employee was involved in an ongoing state and federal investigation of contraband smuggling at the SCC and her employment was terminated early this year. Department leadership found that a home assignment of such long duration, regardless of the intervening complexity of the federal investigation, was unacceptable.

2.       Nearly a year ago, DSHS Chief of Staff Tracy Guerin ordered a change in policy on home assignments. Any home assignment of more than 48 hours must be approved by DSHS Chief of Staff or Human Relations Senior Director. The decision even to make a home assignment of 48 hours or less must be based on imminent safety or security reasons.

3.       As of Monday, the Department had one employee reported on home assignment and that person’s employment was to be terminated this week.

Thomas Shapley

Senior Director

DSHS Public Affairs


“Idiocy and Advocacy”


I didn’t make this up but it’s how I feel lately – see the link to The New York Times (

I’m really not surprised by the most recent “mistake” that was made by DSHS.  After reading through many Washington State Auditor reports which also outlined gross mismanagement of DSHS and millions of dollars lost due to that mismanagement, this newest fiasco falls right into line with the history of the department.


I have been trying to get answers to questions for almost 9 months now regarding reports that were written and “Fact Sheets” that were published based on inaccurate data and information.  I have written to the authors of the reports and many administrators and researchers within Developmental Disabilities and DSHS.  Not one of these people has responded to the questions I have regarding the inaccurate data that has been published.  Data which our legislators and public believe is true and data upon which some disastrous decisions have been made. 


Why won’t anyone within the department look at the questions that I’m asking?  The only response I have received is that they are “too busy” to answer me.  Conveniently “too busy” I assume since an answer would have to acknowledge a mistake had been made. 


It’s time to come to grips with reality, realize mistakes have been made and correct them.  The longer they are in denial, the worse the situation will get and it can’t get much worse. 


State Audits Show DSHS lost over 2 million dollars due to mismanagement

The Department of Social and Health Services is so mismanaged that they have lost over 2 million dollars in our public funds in just the past couple of years.

I want to know why the department is not scrutinzed and held accountable for thier lack of ability to manage payroll, contracts, benefit payments etc. yet say they do not have the budget for cost effective, crucial programs and services for our citizens with developmental disabilities.

Why is DSHS allowed to cut programs, why do some prominent agencies which masquarade as disability advocates, some of these even paid with our public funds themselves, advocate for closure of needed and desired programs while at the same time pushing for the undertaking of costly experiments with the lives of our most vulnerable citizens?

I am outraged by not only the lack of accountablity but the lack of integrity in the managment of DSHS and the integrity of some advocates (The Developmental Disabilities Council, The Arc Chapters, just to name two – there are more involved in this scandulous cover-up)

Our legislators and public are not told the truth about the costs nor are they told the truth about what is found in the data of many reports.  Not only is much of the data misrepresented but U.S. Supreme Court Decisions, such as Olmstead, are misrepresented by these agencies.

It is time that we, as grassroots advocates, make these issues known and upfront.  It’s a hard battle to fight but we need to do it for those who cannot do it themselves.

See this document for resources, facts, Washington State Auditor’s reports and other issues.  Many of these issues were defered and will be looked into this year, hopefully.

DSHS Audits and losses

Washington State, DSHS and DDD discriminate against our youth

With the passage of a new law which our Governor, DSHS Secretary and some prominent groups which masquerade as disability advocates celebrate as “historic,” they are certainly correct.  The reason that this law is “historic” is because it discriminates against our most vulnerable citizens and in particular our youth with complex needs. 


 I must admit that I am still stunned by the passage of SSB 5459.  The process with which this bill was passed, the rhetoric which was continually pushed and the total dismissal of facts derived from data from the Department of Social and Health Services and The Developmental Disabilities Division’s own reports all pointed to a pre-planned action to dismantle the service system which supports a continuum of care for our citizens with disabilities. 


There are so many issues relating to this bill which are questionable from a legal standpoint in addition to total violation of Federal Statutes as determined by The Olmstead Decision.  Yet, for some reason, Governor Gregoire and DSHS Secretary Susan Dreyfus are celebrating what many of us consider one of the darkest days in disability advocacy. 


SSB 5459 prohibits admission of children under age 16 to a Residential Habilitation Center (RHC) for people with developmental disabilities and limits RHC admissions of youth, age 16-21, to short-term respite or crisis care.  Both of these two age groups are greatly discriminated against in this bill.  The civil rights of these groups are being singled out and denied.  This is a travesty – not only for these children but for their families and our communities as a whole. 


What we need to focus on are the needed supports for our citizens.  Prohibiting one group, based solely on age, even though they may require the needed supports that are provided in the RHC is denying these citizens their legal and civil rights.  DSHS states that the children should be living with their families and in their communities.  Yes, that is ideal but what DSHS and DDD are failing to realize is that there is a continuum of needs and this continuum goes across all age ranges.  For some, living in a community home or family home is not safe due to the limited supports available.


Ms. Dreyfus and many others, speak about the residents in the RHCs as if most are elderly, have lived there most of their lives and that the families and guardians are fearful and unaware of the services in the community.  Ms. Dreyfus is very misguided in her understanding of this. 


In fact, there are many newer and younger residents who have been admitted to the RHCs in the past years.  These families have chosen the RHC community as the better option for their children mostly because the services and community supports were not adequate or safe for their children.  The RHC has saved the lives of many of these youth and strengthened their families by providing comprehensive, safe and healthy care to their loved ones. 


I recently asked Ms. Dreyfus what would happen to these children under 16 who could not be safely cared for in a community residential home or family home.  Her response to me was that the families will always have the choice of an RHC but they will have to go out of state.  I ask, is that really a CHOICE?  From my experience and others, the other choice that DDD would offer is to have the police take our loved one with a developmental disability to jail.  Why are Washington State, DSHS and DDD refusing to allow our eligible youth full access to the needed supports and services which they are legally, by Federal Statutes, entitled to?