“The three teams have a long history of collaboration. We may not have been one department, but this certainly isn’t our first go at working together,” said Deputy County Manager, Marie Peoples, Ph.D.
“Those three departments will be unified into one ‘super department,’ and that will be named the Health and Human Services Department,” said Liz Archuleta, Coconino County District 2 Supervisor in a recent press conference. “This will be an integrated approach to providing health and human services to our residences.”
Archuleta pointed to ways the county hopes the consolidation will improve access to vital services, including:
Increased opportunities to write collaboratively for grants.
Improved awareness of the entire menu of services provided.
Removing current barriers to clients such as language, transportation and hours of operation.
“Not everybody is available between 8 and 5,” Archuleta said. “We’re going to look at our hours of service and be available at hours that people need us.”
Last year, the departments piloted several “Super Saturdays,” where staff from the three departments as well as other county staff and partners offered their services outside of government hours, explained Dr. Peoples. “We heard from clients that ‘We really would like more services,’ or if they weren’t clients, then [from] community partners and customers, [we heard] that ‘We would like to engage with the three departments more,’ but again it’s that 8-to-5 constraint that Supervisor Archuleta was talking about.”
“We found an overwhelming response from customers, community partners and others that really did want to engage with us and have services or be part of what we were offering,” Dr. Peoples said. “So from that, we had the support of the Board of Supervisors and county leadership and had the buy-in and support from staff to make it a permanent approach.”
Through the years, the Career Center has worked closely with the Flagstaff business community to grow the regional workforce through innovation and training. “The Coconino Career Center has been part of this community and investing in it for quite a long time, and we look forward to continuing to do that,” said Coconino County Career Center Director Carol Curtis at the press conference.
Redeveloping King Street Location
Later in the week, a community meeting took place to get input on future plans to expand the Coconino County King Street Building, which houses the new Health and Human Services Department. Drawings of three- and four-story building options were presented for the potentially redeveloped King Street location that could quarter the offices of the county treasurer, recorder and assessor and the Community Development Department. The reconfiguration of existing county buildings supports the new services design to improve communications, technology and campus configuration. The proposed site plan depicts the new structure in the southeast corner of the King Street property.
“My sense is that [surrounding businesses] will welcome this as an anchor and as an investment that Coconino County is making to the Eastside,” said Archuleta.
Coconino County teams have been working on the plan and integration of the three departments since the beginning of the year. At the press conference, Dr. Peoples reported that the new job position of Health and Human Services director had been open for one month and that the search committee was conducting a second round of interviews.
“We did a vast, nationwide search. We advertised throughout professional industries that span each of the three departments widely,” she said about the executive search that included job postings at professional associations across the country.
“I especially want to thank the directors of the three departments. I want to thank everyone for their very positive approach and saying, ‘We’re going to roll up our sleeves and get this done,’” said Archuleta. FBN
By Stacey Wittig, FBN
Coconino County Health and Human Services Department 2625 N. King St., Flagstaff, AZ 86004 www.coconino.az.gov/kingstreet