Andy Rix

Economic Specialist, County of Humboldt

I’ve lived in Humboldt for many years, and I plan to retire here someday, again! At the heart of my work in economic development is a holistic mindset; I see our community like a living body with various parts with various functions, where each relies on all the others to function.

This past year, as I completed my PhD in Multidisciplinary Human Services. Rather than specializing in any one particular kind of service, I wanted to study integration and collaboration between all the social services, such as mental health, social services and public health. My dissertation focused on how this multidisciplinary view worked within the child welfare system, in the hopes of decreasing the amount of time it takes for a child in foster care to find permanency.

Our community has taken steps to a more holistic approach before. For years, Humboldt’s services were siloed and this made it really difficult to get people the help they needed. However, in 1999, the county decided to integrate their services rather than keeping them separate. This was driven by the idea that any one person’s struggles are likely affected by multiple systemic issues; if one part of the body hurts, it affects other areas of the body as well. This integration of services also provided greater funding flexibility.

For instance, if a parent isn’t able to feed their kids, if they’re poor, they could be connected with a multitude of essential resources on the spot, instead of having only one aspect of their struggles addressed, and then being sent on their way. Needless to say the handoffs and networking between various services became much smoother after this change.

Where I think we are today as a community is, in some ways better, and others not. Many of our agencies and services are still geographically separated, and even within those agencies there can be very different ways of approaching someone’s health and wellbeing. On top of that, these agencies only have so much time and resources to draw from. And there are a lot of people who need our help. So my work has continued to focus on promoting the concept of interprofessional collaboration so that we don’t run into these barriers - where someone in need can’t be connected to essential resources due to challenges caused by confidentiality regulations or lack of training.

The aim in my work at Workforce Development is to provide individuals with more opportunities for growth. We’re able to provide necessary training for youth as well as adults so that they can find employment, financial stability, and self-sufficiency. We even work with employers providing labor market information, assistance with layoff aversion, supplement pay for on-the-job training, and many other services

I see wealth disparity as a large barrier to community flourishing. So our division is essentially trying to make the community more prosperous for everyone.

Andy Rix