Employment & Social Services

Employment & Social Services
December 11, 2008
By Lynne Rose-Jimenez, Administrative Assistant, Department of Employment & Social Services

Job FaireEach year, the Yolo County Department of Employment and Social Services (DESS) has a rush of people coming in for services during the holiday season. This year is no exception. The number of individuals in need has grown substantially from the normal seasonal labor set-backs to an abundant steady flow due to the overwhelming drop in the nation’s economy. Just in October, DESS staff had over 24,000 contacts with the public. This is a staggering figure and represents a 25% increase from the month before. Despite the ever increasing workload, DESS employees continue their timeless mission of offering good will and cheer to some of Yolo County’s most needy residents.

The mission of DESS is – in partnership with the community, we promote safety, stability and self-sufficiency; serve the vulnerable; and develop and strengthen the workforce. Services include administering food stamps, Medi-Cal and cash aid, as well as enabling county residents in finding employment. Additionally, DESS investigates suspected abuse and neglect in an effort to protect vulnerable children and disabled or elderly adults in Yolo County. They also offer in-home supportive services which allow disabled and elderly adults to stay in their own homes by receiving quality care with assisted living.

During the holiday season, a stressful time for many, DESS partners with local residents and community-based organizations to meet the extra demand for services. For several years DESS has referred its clients to the Yolo Wayfarer Center in Woodland as they provide full meal Thanksgiving baskets to low income residents. Last month they distributed approximately 250 turkeys to low income residents using DESS’s client base. Annually, the Children & Adult Services Division coordinates a gift drive that allows community members to “adopt” and purchase gifts for disabled or elderly adults and families who are receiving services through the Child Welfare Unit. Through this program the unit provides gifts for 75 families, 100 additional children and 30 elderly or disabled adults. Similarly, DESS partners with the U.S. Marine Corps in their Toys for Tots tradition. Customers receiving assistance can sign up for a referral to this program to receive toys for their children ages 0-13. Last year, the Marine Corps provided toys for 1,439 children in Yolo County. This number is expected to double this year.

Currently, there are over 11,000 Yolo County residents who receive food stamps, over 5,000 who receive cash aid, and over 24,000 who receive Medi-Cal on a continuing basis. In an effort to break this cycle and facilitate employment for these individuals in need, DESS’s One-Stop Career Center recently sponsored a job fair attended by over 500 people in a four hour period. On a daily basis, the Employment Center in Woodland usually assists 88 people seeking job search services. This number has doubled this year to 176 per day

“We have a group of very dedicated professionals who are passionate about serving those in need throughout the Yolo County community,” said Diana Williams, DESS Chief Deputy Director. “We have always made customer service a priority and that commitment has not waivered despite the steep incline of those in need. This year especially, the department, despite budget cuts, is solution-focused to meet the challenges of the declining economy felt by a growing number of vulnerable Yolo County residents.”