In 2005, DHS launched a new initiative, "SMART PATH...to a unified DHS", to renew the original mission and unify the agency for the benefit of those we serve. DHS was created in 1997 to create a seamless human service delivery system. While there have been steps towards integrating the agency, much remains to be accomplished. The SmartPath initiative strives to make integration a priority at every level, so that DHS staff are equipped with the information and resources to assist our customers seamlessly and wholistically. The SMART PATH provides an opportunity for all DHS program divisions and departments to work together towards this goal.
When the SMART PATH initiative began, there were 20 integration projects occurring simultaneously across the department. Several projects, like the DHS One Map, have been completed and have already improved DHS service delivery. Currently, SmartPath has an inventory of 15 new and ongoing integration projects. These projects like I-Serve to create a unique customer identifier, the Intergrated Framework System, and the SmartPath Orientation to DHS Staff Training program will build upon the progress made to further facilitate DHS' ability to provide seamless, uniform services across the agency.
One SmartPath project, the Open Door Pilot Program, is already providing real benefits to DHS customers. The Open Door pilot project was developed as a Region 1 Smart Path initiative in Cook County. The Open Door Pilot program was so successful that it paved the way for a second office to open in DuPage County and a third office is now being considered in Rock Island County. Open Door was designed to serve as a one-stop resource for customers who were facing emergency situations and also serve as a resource for other DHS offices and community providers. The original Open Door office was a collaborative effort between DHS, the Michael Reese Health Trust, Health & Disability Advocates (HDA), and Loyola University Center for Urban Research and Learning (CURL). Continuing the spirit of community collaboration, each Open Door is a product of public/private partnerships, and a model of what can be accomplished with a synergistic process.
DHS is continuously working to develop new ways to respond to our customers seamlessly, wholistically, and locally. Assistant Secretary of Programs, Grace Hou, leads a team of 30 regional division liaisons. These liaisons represent their division for a service region, work as a team to improve cross-division communication, and formulate and enact strategies to address local issues so that DHS clients may experience seamless social service delivery.