Human Services Director's Message

Message from Human Services Department Director, Sara Bedford:

Posted: September 9th, 2018 1:02 PM

Last Updated: January 20th, 2021 7:53 PM

All of us at the Human Services Department (HSD), are proud of the wide range of services we provide for Oakland’s children, youth, adults and seniors.

Over the past few years, we’ve expanded our programs—and we’ll continue to evolve—to better respond to Oakland’s diverse communities:

  • Head Start is extending its reach to include homeless families with young children.
  • We now provide emergency and transitional housing support and services through our Hunger and Homeless Program.
  • Senior Centers are becoming more proactive in serving monolingual seniors.
  • We’re developing an intergenerational tutor employment program in partnership with the Oakland Unified School District.
  • We’ve implemented a one-stop career center for older adults.
  • Oakland Unite is turning lives around through its violence prevention and intervention programs.

We provide services directly to those who need them.

The Human Services Department creates and manages programs for all ages – from early childhood and youth leadership to Senior Centers. We support a range of activities such as family literacy, free meals, emergency housing, senior employment, volunteer programs, paratransit, and case management.

Big Benefits, Small Costs

The Human Services Department tackles the hard issues that limited-income and other Oakland residents face daily. And the cost? Not much. Drawing only one percent of the City’s General Fund, we’re a high-yielding investment. For every dollar in General Fund invested, the Human Services Department brings in $11.34 in grant funds. As a result, DHS contributes over $30 million in grant revenues each year to fund direct services to the City’s residents and supports more than 300 jobs.

A Rich History

The Human Services Department traces its origins to the 1960s. Under the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, a Community Action Agency (CAA) office was established in Oakland to advocate for low-income communities and provide services designed to eradicate poverty.

The CAA office became a city service, along with Head Start, in the early 1970s. Eventually, the two programs came together under the management umbrella of the Office of Health & Human Services. Among other accomplishments, this department implemented the City’s Homeless Plan and its Five-Year Child-Care Plan, and greatly increased the Head Start program. During the 1980s, the City worked with the community to develop multi-purpose senior centers. In the late 1980s, the City adopted the “Comprehensive Plan for Seniors.” The City met the first goal of the plan by establishing the Department on Aging in 1989.

The Office of Health & Human Services and the Department on Aging were united in 1996, creating the Department of Aging, Health & Human Services. With a renewed emphasis on policy and planning, this new department could run existing programs more efficiently and also bring in new grant initiatives.

Today we are the Human Services Department, helping our City grow strong!

Sara Bedford, Director