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Foundations Enable Human Services Innovations

The content below may contain dated material as it was prepared for the media in advance of Pittsburgh’s hosting of the G20 in March 2010.  

On January 1, 1997, five formerly separate departments were combined to create the new Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS). Today, DHS is composed of the Area Agency on Aging and the Offices of Behavioral HealthChildren, Youth & FamiliesCommunity Services; and Mental Retardation/Developmental Disabilities. These offices are supported by the Offices of AdministrationCommunity RelationsData Analysis, Research and Evaluation; Information Management and the Executive Office.

Since 2002, DHS has been repeatedly recognized for its innovative work in the human services field. One of the keys to the success of DHS has been the foundation community. When the department was first formed in 1997, it had no information systems strategy, no consistent pay scales or career path models, no centralized administrative function, and a dated financial software package. The Department was scattered haphazardly across numerous locations downtown and suffered from low morale because of all the changes that were taking place.

Local foundation leaders convened in 1997 to consider how the private sector could be helpful in addressing the changes and challenges that faced the Department in its integration of both disparate provider units and funding sources to make possible the delivery of comprehensive human services. Before year’s end, the foundation community stepped up to help deal with all of these problems and more.

Funders created the Human Services Integration Fund (HSIF) as a flexible funding pool to support projects and activities that foster departmental integration/restructuring and are more difficult or impossible to accomplish with public sector dollars. By funding critical projects that would not have happened with public dollars during the project’s background research, its inaugural year or for an extended period of time, the HSIF and individual foundations have helped to build DHS into what it is today. DHS and thereby the residents of Allegheny County, have been the benefactors of nearly $6 million in HSIF and other foundation support since 1997.

HSIF-supported projects and activities assist DHS to:

  • Restructure the organization
  • Innovate technological systems; and
  • Innovate programmatic systems.

Members of the Human Services Integration Fund

  • Alcoa Foundation
  • Anonymous
  • Birmingham Foundation
  • Buhl Foundation
  • Eden Hall Foundation
  • FISA Foundation
  • The Forbes Fund
  • The Grable Foundation
  • Heinz Endowments
  • Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield
  • Hillman Foundation
  • Jewish Healthcare Foundation
  • Maurice Falk Medical Fund
  • Pittsburgh Child Guidance Foundation
  • Pittsburgh Foundation
  • R. K. Mellon Foundation
  • Staunton Farm Foundation
  • United Way of Allegheny County