DSHS Strategic Plans

The Department of Social and Health Services - DSHS is Washington's largest state agency. In any given month, DSHS provides some type of shelter, care, protection and/or support to 2.8 million of our state's 7.1 million people.

Our goal and commitment is to be a national leader in every aspect of client service. The DSHS Strategic Plans are roadmaps that address our organization’s values, how well our organization is meeting its performance expectations and where we are going. They are used to guide our day-to-day decisions and focus our resources in the same direction. Each administration has a specific strategic plan in addition to this DSHS enterprise-wide strategic plan. Those plans are linked below.




To transform lives
People are healthy
People are safe
People are supported
Taxpayer resources are guarded.
  • Honesty and Integrity – because leadership and service require a clear moral compass.
  • Pursuit of Excellence – because it is not enough to get the job done, we must always challenge ourselves to do it better.
  • Open Communication – because excellence requires teamwork and a strong team is seen, heard and feels free to contribute.
  • Diversity and Inclusion – because only by including all perspectives are we at our best and only through cultural competency can we optimally serve our clients.
  • Commitment to Service – because our challenges will always exceed our financial resources, our commitment to service must see us through.

DSHS Goals

Public TrustHealthProtection

Quality of LifeSafety

At DSHS, we transform lives. Our strategic plan is created purposefully and is monitored frequently to ensure DSHS serves our clients and Washington state to the best of our ability. Whether we are fixing the plumbing at a state psychiatric hospital, assessing clients’ needs or ensuring kids have safe and stable living conditions, each of us has an effect on the lives of the 2.8 million clients we serve.
Every DSHS employee contributes to the strategic objectives in the DSHS strategic plan. In turn, each strategic objective aligns with the DSHS goals, which align with Results Washington goals.
Each strategic objective in this strategic plan supports one or more of the five broad goals for DSHS:

  • Health: Each individual and each community will be healthy.
  • Safety: Each individual and community will be safe.
  • Protection: Each individual who is vulnerable will be protected.
  • Quality of Life: Each individual in need will be supported to attain the highest possible quality of life.
  • Public Trust: Strong management practices will ensure quality and efficiency.

DSHS’ goals of Health, Safety, Protection, and Quality of Life align with Results Washington Goal 4: Healthy and Safe Communities. It focuses on:

  • Healthy People: Providing access to good medical care to improve people’s lives
  • Safe People: Helping keep people safe in their homes, on their jobs and in their communities, and
  • Supported People: Helping the most vulnerable people become independent and self-sufficient.

The DSHS goal of Public Trust aligns with Results Washington Goal 5, Efficient, Effective and Accountable Government, fostering a Lean culture that drives accountability and results for the people of Washington.  The focus of Goal 5 is about Customer Satisfaction and Employee Engagement, Resource Stewardship, and Transparency and Accountability.

DSHS Administrations

DSHS is divided into six direct service administrations and two support administrations. DSHS organizational chart. The illustration below shows the support that each administration provides to the communities DSHS serves.

Aging and Long-Term Support Administration (ALTSA)

Mission: transforms lives by promoting choice, independence and safety through innovative services.

ALTSA is nationally recognized as a leader in serving approximately 77,000 older people and individuals with disabilities in Washington in their own homes or in community residential settings (including 10,000 individuals in skilled nursing facilities). ALTSA licenses, certifies and surveys 3,600 facilities and pursues more than 2,300 new investigations of abuse, abandonment, neglect and exploitation each month, as well as 3,100 reports related to complaints regarding facilities. ALTSA assists in more than 3,600 transitions from skilled nursing facilities to community settings each year. In 2016, nearly 5,000 family caregivers received services and supports from ALTSA, helping them continue to provide care for their loved ones in their home. ALTSA supports clients who are deaf and hard of hearing, including case management for more than 350 individuals. ALTSA contracts with 13 Area Agencies on Aging to provide services.  Two year budget:  $5.3 billion / Total employees:  1,750

Behavioral Health Administration (BHA)

Mission: transforms lives by supporting sustainable recovery, independence and wellness.

BHA carries out its mission of transforming lives by supporting sustainable recovery, independence and wellness. BHA provides prevention, intervention, inpatient and outpatient treatment and recovery support services to people with addiction and mental health needs. BHA operates three state psychiatric hospitals that can serve up to 1,161 adults and children with complex needs.  Two year budget:  $1.3 billion / Total employees:  2,864

Children’s Administration (CA)

Mission: transforms lives by acting to protect children and promoting healthier families through strong practice and strong partnerships with the community and tribes.

CA is the statewide child welfare agency. Its responsibilities are to protect children, promote healthier families and support children in out-of-home care through strong partnerships with communities and tribes. CA works to keep children safe from abuse and neglect and to support birth, foster, kinship and adoptive families. CA provides protective services for children, investigating more than 40,000 abuse and neglect intakes in a typical year. CA licenses foster homes and supports more than 9,000 children in foster or relative care. CA helps families find resources to keep children safe and coordinates health services for foster and adoptive children. CA works closely with youth transitioning out of foster care.  Two year budget:  $1.25 billion / Total employees:  2,698

Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA)

Mission: transforms lives by providing support and fostering partnerships that empower people to live the lives they want.

DDA provides case management, residential, employment and day services and other supports to clients with developmental and intellectual disabilities. This continuum of services consists of safe, high quality home, community, and facility-based residential and employment services. DDA case managers determine whether a person meets the state definition of developmental disabilities, assess service needs, authorize supports, develop resources and monitor providers. Statewide, more than 33,000 clients receive supports or a paid service from DDA, which has 27 local offices, four state-operated residential habilitation centers and four state-operated living alternative (SOLA) programs.  Two year budget:  $3.0 billion / Total employees:  3,800

Economic Services Administration (ESA)

Mission: transforms lives by empowering individuals and families to thrive.

ESA is a national leader in providing poverty reduction services to nearly 2.1 million people. With 63 offices statewide, ESA helps low-income people meet their basic needs and achieve economic independence through cash grants, food and medical assistance, employment focused services, subsidized childcare, refugee assistance, disability determinations and child support collection. The Administration also pursues collection of debts owed to DSHS. Two year budget:  $2.1 billion / Total employees: 4,483

Facilities, Finance and Analytics Administration (FFA)

Mission: transforms lives by promoting sound management of Department resources.

FFA engages in sound management of financial, operational, facilities, emergency and risk management services to support DSHS’ mission and goals, enabling programs throughout DSHS to concentrate on their core, client-focused missions. FFA provides the financial leadership to manage the overall DSHS two-year, $14 billion budget. FFA also provides risk management and internal audit services, emergency management services, centralized business support services, capital facilities and contracting support services and a limited number of direct client services, such as background checks. FFA also includes the Consolidated Field Services program, which provides business support to institutions and offices in the field and consolidated maintenance and operations services primarily to institutions.  Two year budget:  $42 million / Total employees:  866

Rehabilitation Administration (RA)

Mission: transforms lives by creating pathways to self-sufficiency through effective rehabilitation services and meaningful partnerships.

RA partners with communities, families, employers, schools and service organizations to provide effective services to youth and adults who deserve opportunities for new beginnings, self-sufficiency and healthy community engagement. RA provides rehabilitation services to 1,600 of the state’s highest-risk juvenile offenders in 11 state-operated residential facilities and seven local offices; specialized treatment for more than 300 civilly committed sexually violent predators in three state-operated facilities; and vocational rehabilitation services in 37 offices around the state to 21,000 individuals with disabilities who want to work and have difficulty finding or keeping a job. Two year budget:  $394 million / Total employees:  1,470

Services and Enterprise Support Administration (SESA)

Mission: transforms lives by helping those who serve succeed.

SESA with its partner, the Financial Services Administration, supports administrations within DSHS. The units within SESA build a foundation for the Department’s direct services to clients and communities, helping DSHS to provide quality services. SESA provides human resources and information technology services; internal and external communication support; research and data analysis; legislative and constituent relations; planning and continuous improvement services; and promotes equity, diversity and inclusion. The Office of Indian Policy and the Office of Fraud and Accountability are within the SESA umbrella, although their Senior Directors report directly to the DSHS Secretary.  Two year budget:  $54 million / Total employees: 577

Enterprise-Wide Strategic Objectives

The DSHS enterprise-wide strategic plan contains the following strategic objectives, which affect all administrations within DSHS. Each DSHS administration is responsible for contributing to the success of these objectives.

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion:

Support and promote Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in the workplace by recruiting, hiring, and retaining a diverse workforce through effective promotion, communication, and training.



We can best assure public trust by aligning DSHS’ purpose and objectives with the principles of equity, diversity and inclusion across all administrations.  An engaged and motivated leadership and workforce ensure greater retention of staff, development of future leaders within the organization and improve customer service and customer relationships.


Success Measures and Action Plans:

Each administration has specific success measures and action plans to support this enterprise-wide strategic objective.  See the administrations’ strategic plans for more information.

DSHS Organizational Transitions

DSHS Organizational Transitions:

Ensure DSHS organizational transitions are effective and successful with minimal disruption to core services, while ensuring we are meeting our customers needs.

In July 2017, the Governor signed legislation creating the new Department of Children, Youth, and Families. DSHS’ Children’s Administration will transition to the new agency on July 1, 2018. It is also anticipated that DSHS’ Juvenile Rehabilitation will transition to the new department on July 1, 2019. In addition, community mental health and substance use disorder services provided by the Behavioral Health Administration are anticipated to transition to the Health Care Authority and the Department of Health by 2020. The support services provided by the two DSHS support administrations, Financial Services Administration (FSA) and Services and Enterprise Support Administration (SESA), as well as the remaining administrations, will be affected by these major changes to DSHS.  


Success Measures:

  • Support a smooth transition of children’s services and community mental health and substance use disorder services to other state departments.
  • Design a new DSHS vision, organizational structure, and infrastructure that supports the DSHS vision and mission.


Action Plan:

  • Identify who is responsible for managing the changes. Establish roles and responsibilities.
  • Establish and implement the work plan, ensuring that critical deadlines are met.
  • Develop and implement a plan to communicate the changes to staff, clients and stakeholders.
  • Develop, empower and reward change leaders.
Modern and Mobile Work Environment

Modern and Mobile Work Environment:

Develop the DSHS infrastructure to support a modern and mobile work environment and create an organizational culture that empowers employees with choice, enables excellent performance and supports an environment of inclusion.



This measure complies with Executive Order 16-07. DSHS’ goal is to develop an organizational culture that supports the needs of employees, provides flexibility and mobility for staff, reduces impact on the environment, provides a supportive and productive work environment, attracts and retains talented employees and promotes work/life balance.


Success Measure:

Design, develop and implement the modern and mobile work environment requirements in Executive Order 16-07 and by the Workplace Strategy Council by the dates established, no later than July 2019.


Action Plan:

  • All administrations to determine positions eligible for teleworking and flexible work schedules.
  • All administrations to develop and implement plan to support the culture that enables a mobile workforce and creates a modern work environment.
  • All administrations to foster the culture of a mobile workforce and a modern work environment.
  • SESA and FSA to measure implementation of modern workplace strategies. 
Emergency Management

Using an all-hazards approach, Emergency Management Services will provide skilled and experienced support to all DSHS programs in order to better prepare them for emergencies and disasters.


Importance: Multiple federal and state laws and regulations require DSHS to have a comprehensive emergency management program to safeguard human life, to continue essential services, and to recover quickly from any emergency. When DSHS has complete emergency response and continuity plans, and employees are trained, the agency is better-prepared to sustain our operations through any disruption. A comprehensive emergency management program improves the capability of DSHS to respond and to return to normal operations quickly and effectively.


Success Measures:

  • 100 percent of executive leadership will be trained and drilled in crisis leadership by September 1, 2018.
  • 100 percent of DSHS staff with a role in the DSHS Emergency Coordination Center will receive training by September 1, 2018.
  • A duty officer program for DSHS headquarters will be fully implemented by September 1, 2018.

Action Plan:

  • Complete armed intruder response improvement plan and implement all recommendations.
  • Develop LMS self-paced training modules to familiarize employees with basic emergency response duties.
  • Identify advanced-level emergency response training opportunities for key staff.
  • Establish a cycle of continuity plan review and revision and provide quarterly reports for the Governor’s Office.
  • Establish an instructor-led training and exercise cycle.
Risk Management

Create a culture of risk awareness and mitigate identified high priority/serious exposure agency risks.



The Governor’s Executive Order 16-06 highlighted the need for all state employees to be aware of and know how to assess risk in their daily duties.  DSHS has responsibility for numerous state resources, most importantly client and employee welfare. It is necessary to assess what potential and probable risks might affect business operations and the quality of care to our clients.  DSHS leaders must understand the most serious exposures and make informed decisions about how to deploy resources that lessen risk. In addition to preventing loss of life or assets and/or expensive litigation, developing and sustaining a risk management framework throughout DSHS also can lead to innovation for mitigating risk. DSHS’s risk management initiative is critical to comply with Governor Inslee’s executive order.   


Success Measures:

  • Implement risk awareness and assessment (including root cause analysis for loss prevention) training on a rolling basis so that all DSHS supervisors, management staff and frontline staff have completed this training by June 2021.

  • Raise risk awareness through agency-wide communication:

    • Make available to all staff a monthly communication by October 2017.

    • Publish 15 risk-related articles in DSHS’ internal communications options, Inside DSHS and This Week on Inside DSHS by June 2019.

    • Make a series of videos available to all staff on basic elements of risk management and on mitigating risk.

  • Build a comprehensive risk register process:

    • Develop a consolidated agency-wide risk register by May 30 of each year.

    • Provide an up-to-date risk register to the Department of Enterprise Services by September 1 of each year.

  • Develop action plans by June 30 of each year for all of the top risks identified.


Action Plan:

  • Align the risk register process with the legislative submission and budget development processes.
  • Identify and assess top risks for inclusion on the agency risk register.
  • Finalize risk register and prioritize top agency risks for mitigation.
  • Update administrative policy 9-13: Enterprise Risk Management annually, in compliance with Executive Order 16-06.
  • Monitor risk mitigation action plans quarterly.
  • Offer online risk awareness and assessment training and provide in-person risk awareness and assessment trainings and workshops.
  • Develop a communication plan with agency risk staff to generate content.Write articles and film videos for Inside DSHS and This Week on Inside DSHS highlighting risk mitigation successes and risk awareness tips.