Today, the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University recognized the City of St. Louis' Special Needs Registry as one of 111 Bright Ideas in Government. This year's cohort hails from all levels of government-including school districts, county, city, state, and federal agencies as well as public-private partnerships-and demonstrates a creative range of solutions to issues such as urban and rural degradation, environmental problems, and the academic achievement of students. Programs were evaluated and selected by a team of policy experts from academic and public sectors.
"Government innovation does not require endless resources and generous budgets," said Stephen Goldsmith, director of the Innovations in Government Program at the Ash Center. "As exemplified by this year's Bright Ideas, some of our country's smartest innovations can in fact reduce government's size while serving our citizens more efficiently and effectively.
The City of St. Louis is recognized for its Special Needs Registry, which is a central, real-time database that provides access to critical information about special needs of individuals of all ages. City agencies use this database to identify those individuals and facilities most severely affected during emergencies and to plan responses to public health needs, potential evacuation or sheltering situations, and provision of services documentation. For instance, during this summer's extreme heat, City officials used the Special Needs Registry to identify individuals who were contacted to ensure the individuals were staying safe and cool. The Registry is maintained by St. Louis Agency on Aging, a division of the City's Department of Human Services.
"I'm proud that the City's Special Needs Registry was honored by Harvard's Ash Center as a "Bright Idea in Government," said Human Services Director Bill Siedhoff. "The Special Needs Registry provides City officials with critical information on some of our most vulnerable residents. It's a great program and we hope to continue to add to the list in the future."
"I commend the Human Services Department for creating and maintaining this important list," said Mayor Slay. "I have asked the Department to continue adding individuals to the list and updating it as necessary."
Individuals who would like to add themselves or a friend or family member to the Special Needs Registry should call 314-657-1676 or register online at http://stlcityfunctionalneeds.org.