Child & Family Service’s new head talks about an array of aid,“from twinkle to wrinkle”
Karen Tan now occupies a different job at the nonprofit Child & Family Service — president and chief executive officer, moving into her office at the health and human services agency’s downtown location. But CFS’ headquarters in Ewa Beach also had an office for the CEO — and that she has decided to convert into an “innovation room,” a place where, Tan said, “thought happens.” One idea: There are plans for “cause marketing” — linking CFS to the sale of items as a fundraising and marketing strategy, she said.
And where else is innovation needed?
“Kupuna services have slowly been unfunded,” said Tan, 48. “We’re seeing them shrink, when people are getting older. That’s concerning to me.
“So, I’m already planning on bringing a group of key people to that room, to do brainstorming and planning — what’s working, what’s not, where do we go from here, and come up with a strategy to address that area.”
Tan is the married mother of three teenage daughters, the eldest starting college at Seattle Pacific University, where Tan had earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology. She went on to get a master’s in social work from University of Hawaii at Manoa and is a licensed clinical social worker. Most of her jobs have been leadership positions, including her 12 at CFS — most recently serving as chief program officer. She has watched the state’s social service organizations struggle with diminishing funds in elder care and other areas. And even when it’s not diminished, it can be held up, putting services on hold.
“The challenge is that the money comes from the federal government, stops at the state, then to the city,” she said. “So you have three levels of processing, so it can delay the funding.”
There are meetings in the works with government agencies aimed at curbing that problem, she said.
“They don’t want services to stop, either,” Tan added, “and that’s the good thing. And I get it. It’s that the city doesn’t necessarily want you to start when the money hasn’t yet arrived. It’s the way we treat our own bank accounts.”