In order to comply with the furloughs ordered last week by Governor Jay Inslee, the Department of Social and Health Services will close its offices across the state starting on Monday, June 29 and continue to do so each Monday through July 20. During this time, those DSHS offices that are open, including those with only limited services, will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays. They will be closed on July 3 for the Fourth of July holiday. After July 20, the agency will furlough employees one day a month through at least November. Many services will not be available to the public and clients will not be able to get in touch with most DSHS employees during furlough days.
Several parts of the agency are exempt from the furloughs. Essential employees will still report to work at 24/7 facilities, including Eastern and Western State hospitals, the Special Commitment Center and residential habilitation centers and state operated living alternatives for the developmentally disabled. Since they are largely federally funded, the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and the Economic Service Administration’s Division of Disability Determination are also exempt from the furloughs.
“We know Washingtonians are hurting right now,” said Secretary Cheryl Strange. “It pains us that we won’t be there for several days this summer and fall, but these temporary closures will help save money now so that we can ensure we are there in the future for Washingtonians in need.
In addition to the furlough days, a 3% raise set to take effect July 1 for agency directors, Exempt and Washington Management Service employees will be canceled. The governor’s office estimates that the canceled raises and furloughs, once enacted by all cabinet agencies, will save $55 million over the next year.
DSHS has more 17,000 employees and provides a wide range of social services for more than two million Washingtonians.