The Office of the Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Human Services (DCAO HS) oversees and coordinates the direction and focus of the following City internal departments: Justice Services, Social Services, and Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities, The Office on Aging and Disabilities Services, The Office of Multi-Cultural Affairs, The Office of Community Wealth Building, and The Office of Children and Families. The Office also serves as the liaison to the following external quasi‐independent and/or State Agencies with a Richmond City focus: Richmond City Health District, Richmond Behavioral Health Authority and the Richmond Public Library. The Office oversees the internal agencies, and ensures program accountability for meeting the health and human service needs of the City of Richmond’s residents and visitors.
The programs, activities and initiatives of The Office of Human Services' agencies protect and safeguard children, families and adults in need and help to build and sustain resilient communities to enhance the quality of life for Richmond residents. The Office of the DCAO works to align implementation and funding strategies across human service departments and non-departmental agencies. Areas of focus for the DCAO HS are fostering upward economic mobility; improving the health, education and well-being indicators for children, youth and emerging young adults through comprehensive social services; sporting and outdoor activities; employment and youth leadership opportunities; family stability; workforce development; support for vulnerable citizens; and meeting the needs of seniors and persons with disabilities. The overarching objective of the office is to align the services and resolve in the portfolio to support a community wealth building framework for the citizens of Richmond.
The mission of the Office of the Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Human Services (DCAO-HS) is to provide executive policy direction and support to its cluster of agencies. The DCAO for Human Services works to align implementation and funding strategies across human service agencies and non-departmental partners. Our focus is on improving the health, education, and well-being of children, youth, families and elders through comprehensive social services, youth employment and leadership opportunities, as well as through our early childhood development initiatives. Family stabilization and the needs of seniors and persons with disabilities are additional areas of focus for our office.
LeCharn Benton, Management Analyst II -Budget
Sophia Stephens, Administrative Program Support Assistant
Patricia Parks, Management Analyst, Information Concierge
Office on Aging and Disabilities Services:
E. Yvette Jones, Manager
Janei Lofty - Program Coordinator
Office of Multicultural Affairs:
Karla Almendarez-Ramos, Manager
Brandie Lynn Carter - Interpreter/translator
Olivier Faye - Language Access Coordinator
Javier López-Rincón - Interpreter/translator
Vivian Robles - Multicultural Outreach Specialist
Vacant - Administrative Liaison
Richmond is ripe for a compassion movement
Aug 24, 2019
A couple of years ago, two Richmond women approached me when I was director of the Office of Community Wealth Building and stated that they were ready to volunteer their time and take bolder action to solve poverty. As a way to gain a deeper understanding of the systemic and structural issues relating to poverty in Richmond, the two women, Mollie and Lisa, agreed to befriend two other women, Ciji and Jojo, who lived on the other side of town and who were both facing myriad life challenges with jobs, family, money and related emotional trauma.
After a three-month period of mutual suspicion, the relationships became more authentic and the women learned a lot about one another and themselves. Today, they are all earnest friends. Although they all live in Richmond, they fully appreciate the truth about how different life can be for people who live a few miles from one another.
Life expectancy for residents of the Gilpin neighborhood is 63 years. Life expectancy for residents of Westover Hills is 83 years. This jaw-dropping disparity is driven by a range of factors, of which the dominant one is wealth. Recent research indicates that 24% of our neighbors in Richmond and 38% of all children in the city live at or below the poverty level. These are sobering facts about the nexus of health and wealth in Richmond.
We have hundreds of nonprofit organizations with a mission to improve the human condition in the community. We have hundreds of congregations committed to serving humanity by living up to the tenets of their faith traditions. We have foundations, corporations, charities and city government providing financial support to address pressing social needs. Richmond has thousands of people who have a heart to help. Yet, despite all of the resources, time and money put into programs and initiatives, widespread poverty persists, stealing decades from human lives and degrading the quality of life for every citizen of our city.
Richmond has the human and intellectual capital to find long-term, permanent solutions to our challenging social problems. Solutions to the problems will emerge from genuine, productive, trusting and open relationships between our citizens. We need to get closer.
As often articulated by Mayor Levar Stoney in his appeal for “One Richmond,” I too believe that Richmond is ripe for a compassionate movement of thought and deed about how we connect to one another. We have retreated into our literal and figurative bunkers for too many years. It’s time for a compassion offensive. We need to listen to and understand one another’s unique story, leaving behind our suspicions, narratives and biases about the other person’s race, gender or socio-economic level, embracing the possibility that everything we think we know about that person could be incorrect.
During my 20-year career in nonprofit and human services, I have listened to a full range of Richmond citizens, from those who stand on street corners asking for spare change to those who have millions of dollars in the bank and vacation homes. I have heard countless stories. As a result, I am positive about the following observations:
• Historical racial and economic segregation in Richmond makes it rare for us to have prolonged, consistent interaction with someone from a different social network.
• Many people have an unshakeable predilection to accept their preconceived ideas about those outside of their own social network as fact.
• The best way to discover the truth about someone’s life is to sit down and listen to their story in a neutral, nonthreatening environment.
Imagine the shock to the Richmond pysche, if after spending time with people who are not in our current circle, we learn the truth. We learn that it is actually rare to find an incompetent city employee; that scores of affluent business executives are committed to developing economic opportunity for marginalized citizens; that hundreds of women on public assistance are working two part-time jobs while taking classes; and that many police officers go home brokenhearted when compelled to use force in arresting a young black man.
If we were able to get a critical mass of openhearted Richmonders to listen, learn and trust one another, we would have the foundation for remarkable community transformation. We are the transformation we seek. Fundamental change begins in hearts and minds as we get in closer proximity to one another. That is how structures change. That is how communities grow stronger. We need to build thousands of earnest friendships.