The Office of Legislative Affairs, located within Policy & Public Affairs, directs all legislative activities of the department and its facilities to garner support for the programs, services and operations of the department. Legislative guidance, consultation and training is provided on legislative policies and practices, and the office coordinates with the Office of the Secretary of Health and Human Resources on evaluating legislation and recommendations for specific action. Outside of the General Assembly Session, the office plans and oversees the development of legislative proposals, and reviews all legislative reports to the General Assembly. Throughout the year, the office assists with providing appropriate agency responses to inquiries from legislators, legislative staff, executive branch officials, individuals receiving services and their families, and the general public. Finally, the director of the office serves as the commissioner’s liaison to the State Board of BHDS which meets at least quarterly, and the office supports the State Board’s Policy Development and Evaluation Committee. The communications office, located within Policy & Public Affairs, directs all external communications, public relations and media activities for DBHDS and its 15 facilities. Specifically, the office employs both proactive and reactive communications strategies. Proactive communications involve developing departmental messaging and strategic plans to promote positive programs and initiatives, including writing press releases, speeches, presentations and newsletters, pitching stories to media, and promoting stories and events through social media. Reactive communications include actions such as responding swiftly and accurately to inquiries from state and national media and implementing crisis communications strategies in the event of problematic issues involving the department, community providers or other system stakeholders. The office also handles many internal communications needs for DBHDS and provides messaging and media support to facility directors and community services boards. The office also handles all FOIA requests for DBHDS Central Office.
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