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Opinion: Revolutionizing the distribution model of human services benefits all Oklahomans

In just two months, I’ll celebrate my second year with Oklahoma Human Services (OKDHS). Along with this personal milestone, I find myself celebrating the many accomplishments our team of public service heroes have accumulated over these last two years. I could write pages about these accomplishments and the many reasons I’m so incredibly proud of the work our agency has done to improve the lives of Oklahomans. However, I think the initiative I am most proud is our work to truly revolutionize the distribution model of human services in our state.

We have prioritized breaking down barriers in order to meet our customers right where they are, when they need us most, by embedding staff within the communities they serve. Prioritizing our service to customers and the workforce that is so critical to the delivery of those services, which we call “Service First”, over physical structures has allowed the agency to deepen our level of service. When we leave a county office building, we are not leaving the community in person. In fact, we are actively building partnerships and relationships within those communities to create more physical locations to meet and serve our customers, while also customizing the social safety net to best serve that community. After closing 31 buildings to date, we have developed more than 100 partnerships to join us in service to Oklahomans in their own communities.

These partnerships exist in a myriad of spaces – faith-based organizations, Health Departments, other social services agencies and non-profits, police departments, etc. – and offer a variety of opportunities to deeply and collaboratively serve our customers. In addition, these partnerships help us remove transportation and other barriers that may have prevented our customers from easily accessing our services in the past. We are leaning into embedding workers in the community through other interventions like Community HOPE Centers, School-based Social Services, the Front Porch Initiative, just to name a few.

We are eternally grateful to so many communities who have opened their doors to partner with us, even in the wake of the pandemic, as we work tirelessly to serve the community better together. We know this strategy of embedding workers deeper into the community will create positive outcomes for generations to come and are excited for the future of this strategy in a post-COVID world.

Justin Brown is Oklahoma’s Secretary for Human Services and the OKDHS Director. As Service First locations are added, you will be able to find them and all of our office locations by visiting and clicking 'contact us.' To raise your hand in partnership with OKDHS and your local community, ask a question or share a concern, visit



Last Modified on Apr 22, 2021
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