DSHS to close Puyallup Valley Community Services Office permanently in March
Access to services in the community still available, uninterrupted
Contact: Norah West, DSHS Media Relations, 360–902–7833
Puyallup, WASHINGTON — The Department of Social and Health Services’ brick-and-mortar Puyallup Valley Community Services Office will close permanently on March 31, 2021. The last day for in-person services, which are already limited due to COVID-19 restrictions, is Friday, Feb. 26. Washingtonians in the Puyallup area will continue to access services like food, cash and medical benefits and other supports online and over the phone as they have for nearly a year since the onset of COVID-19.
“Because of our commitment to customer service, we have been deliberate and forward-thinking when designing several ways for Puyallup-area residents to access services through DSHS, during the pandemic and after,” noted David Stillman, assistant secretary for the agency’s Economic Services Administration, which administers public benefits. “We are confident our decade’s worth of experience with virtual call center services and online access will help make this a successful transition.”
DSHS’ Community Services Division officials began meeting with community leaders in December 2020 to discuss plans to close the Puyallup Valley CSO. Like all DSHS offices across the state, Puyallup closed to the public in March 2020 at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The lease DSHS has with the Puyallup building expires at the end of March 2021; another building tenant, Adult Protective Services under the Aging and Long-Term Support Administration, is also vacating the building.
“We moved quickly to serve the community in ways that keep our staff and our clients as safe as possible,” said Hilliary Bryan, administrator for the Puyallup Valley CSO. “In the process, our staff have adapted, and now we are looking beyond the pandemic to serve clients in new ways.”
DSHS data shows that the majority of clients accessing the Puyallup Valley CSO live in areas outside of the downtown Puyallup area where the office is located. The Puyallup Valley CSO is on a direct bus route to the nearest CSO in Tacoma, just six miles way. DSHS intends to keep in-person services available in a post-COVID environment by placing some employees at strategic locations to ensure access for those clients with barriers from lack of transportation, housing or internet services.
Currently, in-person essential services are provided for people who have a general delivery address to pick up EBT cards and emergency supports. After Feb. 26, customers with these needs can call the Customer Service Contact Center at 877–501–2233 to request these services by appointment, and staff will make arrangements for customers to pick up at their nearest CSO. People can access all DSHS’ community services by calling the Customer Service Contact Center from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday or going online to WashingtonConnection.org. Complete details about the current service delivery are available on the DSHS website.
Closure of the Puyallup Valley CSO aligns with DSHS’ long-term goal of providing services in more efficient, innovative ways, better meeting its customers’ needs and reducing its brick-and-mortar footprint wherever it makes sense to do so. It also saves the state more than $63,000 a month in lease costs and facility-related expenses in a time when Washington is also facing an unprecedented budget shortfall due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Puyallup is the second closure in the last few months. Additional locations are being considered across the state over the next two budget cycles to close, consolidate or reduce leased space where those changes make sound business sense and does not unduly impact Washington residents or DSHS staff.
The money saved by closing this office will help reduce the deficit as well as retain necessary staffing and technology to continue to administer essential services and ensure Washingtonians who are eligible have access to programs like Basic Food benefits, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Aged, Blind or Disabled services/Housing and Essential Needs referrals.
Puyallup area community members who have questions or concerns about the closure can send them to Hilliary Bryan at 253–381–0193 or Hilliary.firstname.lastname@example.org.