2009 Challenge Award Recipients
At a time when the demand for counties services is soaring – and at a time when county revenues dwindling – the 2009 Challenge Awards were evidence of the strength counties have maintained in the face of a storm of political and financial barriers.
California Counties Innovation Award
The following program was honored for its innovation and creativity. The judging panel selected this program among Challenge Award recipients as the most innovative.
San Diego County — Neighborhoods for Kids – East County
Assistant Deputy Director
Health and Human Services, East Region
Lemon Grove, CA 91945
Phone: (619) 668-3990
“Neighborhoods for Kids – East County” strives to keep abused and neglected children in safe, familiar placements and in their same school. The Health and Human Services Agency East Region partnered with local schools and community groups to create this unique program. Often, children are placed in any available foster home – requiring them to leave their neighborhood and school. The goal of “Neighborhoods for Kids – East County” is to ensure that if a child has to be removed from the home, he or she can stay in the same school and be safely placed in another nearby home. Social workers in the program work in a specific geographic assignment area. Half of the social workers are emergency response workers who investigate allegations of abuse and neglect. The other half manages dependent children or voluntary services. The program makes use of six “Way Station” foster homes that are open 24/7, where the children can remain until a relative or familiar family can be located, and they continue to attend their home school. A team decision-making process is used when the child comes into protective custody, involving family, community, and school. The primary benefit of this model is workers build better relationships with families, schools, clergy, and law enforcement in the neighborhood. The program does not require more costs, only a change in how child welfare services are done. In East County, over half of the children who require out-of-home placement are placed with relatives. Sixty-three percent of foster children are attending the same school as when they were removed from their home. Since the program’s implementation, fewer children have been removed from their homes. In East County, 83 percent of foster youth will complete the 12th grade this year, a figure higher than the national average of a 60 percent graduation rate for students in out-of-home care.
Challenge Award Recipients
Glenn County — Mental Health Forensics Team
Scott Gruendl, Director
Glenn County Health Services Agency
242 N. Villa Avenue
Willows, CA 95988
Glenn County’s challenge was to address growing psychiatric crises through a coordinated and cooperative multi-agency response. Previously, the Mental Health, Sheriff’s Office and Health Services Agency had their own individual methods of response for psychiatric crises. Costs were spiraling and the quality of service was dropping, including a catastrophic event at the county jail. The Glenn County Health Services Agency took the lead role in establishing the Mental Health Forensics Task Force to organize these multiple departments in their response to psychiatric crisis. Comprised of all county law enforcement agencies, the hospital, the jail medical staff, the public guardian, district attorney, and the Health Services Agency, the Task Force created a universal protocol and simple decision-making trees to address situations. The agreement was designed to save money and improve overall service, coordination, and consumer outcomes. The first year saw a savings of nearly $100,000 and service to the community has improved with faster response times. Individuals in crisis are no longer handed to a phone service; they are immediately transferred to a live, on-call crisis worker. The multi-agency agreement, which is one of only a few that exist in the state, has culminated in a shift of crisis response, fostering cross-agency collaboration, savings, and improved outcomes.
50,001 to 200,000
Lake County — Revitalizing Clearlake Oaks
Doug Willardson, Administrative Analyst II
255 N. Forbes Street
Lakeport, CA 95453
Once a thriving resort town, Clearlake Oaks, a small unincorporated community in Lake County, slowly deteriorated over the past few decades and has suffered severely from the economic downturn. In the 1950s and 1960s, Clearlake Oaks was a thriving resort town catering to summer vacationers. But consumer trends changed, and small family resorts and vacation homes soon switched to year-round low-rent housing. The community subsequently suffered from sagging property values, a stagnant economy, and high crime rates. To combat this problem and revitalize the community, the county created the Clearlake Oaks Task Force including animal control, police, probation, and a code enforcement officer all dedicated to serving only Clearlake Oaks; focused on attracting private investment; focused on obtaining non-profit organizations contributions/investments; worked to secure public funds; began an intense marketing campaign; and worked to develop a sense of pride in the community. The effort was financed through a combination of private, not-for-profit, and public funds. Marketing and community outreach was done within existing staffing and budget levels, with a boost from a grant. Since the intense revitalization effort, Clearlake Oaks has seen a stark contrast. It has been visually spruced up. Property values have increased; new businesses are open; and residents now take pride in their community.
San Benito County — Juvenile Hall Orientation Video
Kevin Nitzel, Juvenile Hall Superintendent
400 Monterey Street
Hollister, CA 95023
Phone: 831/636-4050 ext. 10
The San Benito County Juvenile Hall Orientation Video was created to bridge the gap in communication between in-custody minors, parents/guardians, and the county. The Probation Department teamed up with the Filmmaker’s Club at San Benito High School to produce, act in, and edit the orientation video. The high school youth were brought into juvenile hall and walked through the intake process. They wore prison clothing and worked all day long filming the video. When filming was over, post production began and the high school club took seven months to produce a 26-minute video. Because the film was produced by the high school club, what should have cost the county $26,000, only cost $100. The film has also been a helpful educational tool for parents of in-custody minors, and reduced the amount of calls and questions to Probation Department staff. This collaborative effort proved to be a win for all parties: the Probation Department saved money as well as time in that guardians are less likely to call in with questions; the video can be used as a deterrent piece; and the student-filmmakers learned how to work for a client, and gained empathy and understanding for the in-custody minors.
200,001 to 700,000
Marin County — Health and Wellness Campus
Saaid Fakharzadeh, Assistant Director
Department of Public Works
PO Box 4186
San Rafael, CA 94913
The Marin Health and Wellness Campus provides county health services in a sustainable, campus-like setting that clusters services into a group so that clientele are able to access services in one place. Many clients using county health serves had to travel between facilities from one side of the county to another. Five existing buildings in the densely populated canal district of San Rafael on a bus route were remodeled, which is within walking distance for the majority of the client base. The construction of the new facilities followed techniques set forth by the U.S. Green Building Council to ensure sustainability. The majority of the $63 million project was funded by tobacco securitization funds and various sources, such as Proposition 63. A private-public partnership between the land developer and the county allowed for speedy construction. The campus has been operating since May 2008 and is able to efficiently provide health services including mental health, the Women’s, Infants and Children Program, and women’s health services. By clustering services, county health services provided “one-stop shopping.” A client can walk across a courtyard to get mental health services or an immunization, instead of driving or taking a bus to another county building.
Merced County — Day Reporting Center
Christine Bobbitt, Assistant Chief Probation Officer
Merced County Probation Department
2150 M Street, 2nd Floor
Merced, CA 95340
Merced County Probation teamed up with Behavioral Interventions to provide a Day Reporting Center focused on reducing recidivism through changing behavior. The county had a number of obstacles to overcome: an unemployment rate over 20 percent, one of the highest foreclosure rates in the nation, and a serious gang issue. The Probation Department had been pro-active in using evidence-based practices and programs, and recognized the opportunity presented by the allocation of SB 81 re-entry funds toward this effort. Behavioral Interventions has a proven track record with its intensive six-month program, and was able to tailor its technique to the unique needs of Merced County’s probation population. It is an intensive six-month program, consisting of four phases, requiring clients to participate seven days a week in the initial phase. Day Reporting Center participants receive a high level of service and supervision, leaving probation officers time to focus on the remainder of their caseloads. The Day Reporting Center provides a community-based corrections model critical to successful reentry. To date, it has served 134 adults and 98 juveniles. Cognitive behavioral program such as these have been proven to effect positive change in offenders’ behavior and reduce recidivism by 33 percent. The Probation Department has seen marked improvement in the lives of those probationers who have completed the Day Reporting Center program.
Monterey County — Revitalization of the Public Safety Net Hospital
Lew C. Bauman
County Administrative Officer
168 West Alisal Street, 3rd Floor
Salinas, CA 93901
Monterey County’s Natividad Medical Center is a public safety net hospital that has provided comprehensive, high quality, acute medical care, health and wellness services, and other benefits responsive to the cultural needs of the community for more than 123 years. Over the past decade, Monterey County had been challenged in its ability to operate the hospital within budget. Three years ago, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors explored the potential for sale, lease, transfer, or restructuring of the hospital. After review of alternative cooperative scenarios, the county formed a partnership with the Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System and Community Hospital of Monterey Peninsula. Subsequently, Natividad Medical Center was restructured into a unique public/private partnership to bring about operational improvement and revitalization in order to ensure the center’s ability to operate within budget. Originally expected to lose $25 million in 2006, the center experienced a $10.5 million profit in 2008, a $35 million turnaround in two years. The partnership proved a highly successful model for revitalization, resulting in the hospital’s increased ability to move forward with its goal to be the desired resource for medical care for Monterey County residents.
700,001 and Above
Alameda County — Write to Read
Cyrus Armajani, Literacy Specialist
Alameda County Library
2450 Stevenson Blvd.
Fremont, CA 94538
Write to Read is a literacy program for those incarcerated at Camp Wilmont Sweeney, a residential facility for non-violent young male offenders. The young men in residence attend regular school classes provided by the Alameda County Office of Education. However, many of these young men are behind in basic reading, writing, and educational skills, which impedes their future ability to find work after release, thus increasing recidivism rates. Write to Read is a literacy program that uses reading and writing as tools to examine social, economic, and political situations in life. It is a cooperative program of the Alameda County Library and Probation Department. Over the course of three, 14- to 16-week sessions, Write to Read provides 50 or more residents with literacy instruction in small groups and in one-on-one tutorials. Students read and study a variety of writing, including poetry, essays, short stories, biographies, and novel. Write to Read gives students opportunities to engage in substantive classroom discourse, which is associated with greater achievement in reading, writing, and the acquisition of content knowledge. Program elements include guest speakers, field trips, and written texts. Students explore issues of personal identity, tolerance, social justice, and more. Pre- and post-assessments indicate that students who complete the program gain on average 7.2 grade levels.
Los Angeles County — Voters with Specific Needs Sensitivity Training Video
Julia Keh, Election Programs Coordinator
12400 Imperial Highway, Suite 7020B
Norwalk, CA 90650
Phone: (562) 462-2754
The Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk is committed to making sure its election workers are prepared for all possible scenarios at polling stations. That means making sure that all workers are trained to work with voters who have specific special needs. The department paired with the Voting Accessibility Advisory Committee to create the Voters with Specific Needs Sensitivity Training Video. The video reinforces “do’s and don’ts” and other “how-to’s” with regards to helping people with disabilities. The three-part, 40-minute video includes translations in six languages (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog/Filipino and Vietnamese) and has closed captioning for the hearing impaired. It includes three vignettes in 5-, 10- and 25-minute lengths, each featuring non-actors and community activists who have disabilities. The video was produced using funds from Election Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Grant, federal funding dispersed through the Secretary of State to local counties to implement federal voting systems and accessibility requirements. Since the video’s creation, more than 25,000 election workers have been trained. Copies of the video were also distributed to county public libraries, media outlets and community-based organizations. The video has helped develop a partnership between the department and community groups.
Orange County — The AB 939 Surcharge Program
Dylan Wright, Deputy Director
Orange County Waste & Recycling
300 North Flower St., Suite 400
Santa Ana, CA 92703
The Integrated Waste Management Act of 1989 (AB 939) requires cities and counties to reduce by 50 percent the amount of waste disposed in landfills or pay daily fines; legislation now proposes to increase that mandate to 75 percent diversion. The California Integrated Waste Management Board adopted a policy of “Zero Waste,” making compliance with AB 939 even more difficult to achieve. For years, self-hauled waste to landfills has been viewed as a barrier to meeting the AB 939 mandate, because it is not recycled, even though 60 percent of it contains readily recyclable and compostable materials. Orange County Waste & Recycling recommended a surcharge for self-hauled waste to landfills, increasing the fees from $27 to $46 per ton. This market-driven, economic solution was meant to reduce the disposal of recyclable materials in the landfills. The benefit of the program has been an increase in diversion of waste from the landfill to recycling facilities. Self-hauled waste has decreased 70 percent since the inception of the surcharge. Almost $14 million was generated from the surcharge for use in regional recycling education programs, including public education and outreach and a partnership with a local science center.
Riverside County — County Pharmacy Saves Member and Taxpayer Dollars
Ronald W. Komers, Assistant County Executive Officer/Human Resources Director
4080 Lemon Street, 7th Floor
Riverside, CA 92501
Rubidoux Pharmacy was developed to provide Riverside County’s own Exclusive Care Health Plan members, other county employees, and the uninsured with convenient access to prescriptions. Prescription drug costs for county employees had increased dramatically and accounted for 20 percent of all health care costs. Quality control and non-compliance with drug regimens was also an issue. Rubidoux Pharmacy is a county-owned and operated facility with advanced compliance packaging technology, designed to help individuals take their medications properly. The technology helps improve compliance and also protects consumers who may be at risk of death due to drug errors. The pharmacy was also designed to dispense services through a cost-effective in-house source in response to escalating drug costs. The pharmacy is accessible in person, by phone, or via the Internet for prescription orders and consultation. The pharmacy also provides free Federal Express delivery of prescriptions. The county-run pharmacy saves the county health plan 37.9 percent on each item it dispenses because it no longer must pay another pharmacy to dispense medications. Transparency is another benefit in that actual drug costs are known, and the county has complete control as a health plan to design and modify the pharmacy benefits as needed according to demand.
Riverside County — Volunteer Pharmacists Assist with Emergency Response
Susan Harrington, Director
Department of Public Health
4065 County Circle Drive
Riverside, CA 92503
The Riverside County Department of Public Health develops emergency management plans that guide the medical and health response to a public health emergency. The scope of these plans is large and requires a substantial amount of resources, including personnel. For example, to provide medication to the county’s entire population in 48 hours, it would require 100 distribution locations. Given limited staff resources and expertise in pharmaceuticals, the Department of Public Health created a volunteer pharmacy Emergency Response Team to assist with the distribution of pharmaceuticals or vaccines to affected communities during disease outbreak or bioterrorism. This team, consisting of pharmacists, technicians, and pharmacy students, assist with the development and implementation of distribution plans, and are trained to dispense medication to the public and/or first responders. Team members are also trained to provide the community with dosage or vaccination information; triage; conduct physical assessment and health screenings; collect epidemiologic data; and administer vaccines. Team members volunteer their expertise, allowing the program to operate with low costs; during an emergency, these volunteers could save the county a good deal in that they can more efficiently deliver medicines. This team remains a valuable resource and improves the county’s ability to serve the residents in an emergency.
San Mateo County — Sheriff’s Green Jail Initiative
John F. Quinlan, Captain
400 County Center, San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office
Redwood City, CA 94063
Phone: (650) 363-4452
Until recently, San Mateo County’s inmates were using 3,600 disposable plastic spoons each day. These spoons, along with all other waste, went directly into landfills. The Sheriff’s Office has since committed to a new “Green Jail Initiative.” Each inmate now uses a reusable, recyclable spork along with new compostable dining ware products, including “spudware,” potato-based, biodegradable utensils. These changes not only help the environment, but also save money. In addition, the inmates learn their civic responsibility to protect the environment. The jails began composting all of its food waste this year, along with recycling pallets and other packaging materials. By reducing the amount of trash, the Maguire Correctional Facility, the county’s largest corrections facility, has cut 70 percent of its trash service costs. Its use of one-step “green” cleaning solutions has saved approximately $3,000 per month. Proceeds from recycling are also deposited in the Inmate Welfare Fund to help with rehabilitation programs, with a total of $1,600 in proceeds to date. Other agencies have contacted the county for ideas for their own “greening” efforts. Future plans in San Mateo County facilities include replacing lights with low energy bulbs and exploring “green” carpet products when carpets are routinely replaced in housing units.
Merit Award Recipients
Amador County — Garbage Rate Review in a Franchise System
Jim McHargue, R.E.H.S., Solid Waste Program Director
810 Court Street
Jackson, CA 95642
Phone: (209) 223-6429
Counties and rate-payers have recently seen garbage fees climb higher and higher. In order to streamline the complicated process of calculating the costs of garbage pickup and disposal, as well as save money, the county created a helpful, new tool. The Refuse Rate Adjustment Methodology automatically calculates the costs associated with garbage pickup each year over a five-year period. This saves the amount of time staff must dedicate to rate adjustments and dramatically reduced the amount of money budgeted for the annual review of the franchise waste haulers. The Rate Adjustment Methodology has saved money for the county and taxpayer, while still providing fair rates to the garbage-hauling company.
50,001 to 200,000
Humboldt County — StepUP for Youth Jobs
Jacqueline R. Debets
Economic Development Coordinator
520 E Street
Eureka, CA 95501
StepUP for Youth is a program that matches youth with work experience in growing industries in the private and public sectors. A study suggested that there were six fast-growing economies in the Redwood Coast region that would need entry level workers. The County Workforce Investment Board took steps to build a pipeline of such workers by placing young people, especially at-risk youth, in jobs based on their level of readiness. The program provides training workshops to all youth, regardless of income. In the first summer, 33 youths were matched to jobs; as a result of the success the Departments of Health and Human Services and Probation matched the funding to increase the capacity of the program, allowing for 886 participants this year.
200,001 to 700,000
San Joaquin County — Library ART Card Campaign
Pamela Sloan, Director of Community Services
605 N. El Dorado Street
Stockton, CA 95202
The Library ART Card program is a marketing campaign to increase interest in obtaining a library card, to remind the public of the value of services offered, and to give the library a fresh new public image. Appealing artwork from San Joaquin County students now appears on the cards. A key-tag version was also created. These cards do cost a nominal fee, and the old version remains available for free. However, many patrons are delighted to pay a few dollars to support youth art, literacy and the future of the Stockton-San Joaquin County Public Library. Since introducing the ART Cards, the number of library card holders and revenue have increased, as well has the library’s public image.
Sonoma County — Energy Independence Program
Peter Rumble, Administrator’s Office Analyst
575 Administration Drive, Suite 104A
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
In keeping with its environmental stewardship, Sonoma County created a program that provides financing for individuals to improve their homes/businesses by installing energy efficient, renewable, and water conservation technologies. Sonoma’s AB 811 program, Sonoma County Energy Independence Program, is the first of its kind to operate in California and every city and town in the county is participating. The program is a significant tool for funneling more resources into the shift to greater efficiency and renewable energy. Since March 2009, more than $3 million in project applications have been submitted and the county has issued payment to the first program applicant. This is a bold step towards reaching Sonoma County’s community-wide greenhouse gas reduction targets.
Sonoma County — Strategic Plan
Paul Kelley, Chair
Board of Supervisors
575 Administration Drive, Suite 104A
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
In order to address long-term challenges such as financial pressures, retiree health liability, aging facilities and infrastructure, the Sonoma County Strategic Plan was created with a practical Implementation Plan. The county administrator and board initiated a targeted approach focusing on issues in pragmatic ways utilizing subject matter experts within the county staff. Projects with clear objectives, schedules, deliverables and owners are designed as a means to implement the Strategic Plan’s policy. A great deal of staff and consultant time has been invested to make the plan a success; savings are realized in that the new plans allow for revised compensation practices of the retiree health program, efficiencies in the criminal court system, proactive instead of reactive plans for infrastructure, etc.
Tulare County — Baby Steps to Parenting
Barbara Gross, CWS Registered Nurse
350 W. Mineral King Avenue
Visalia, CA 93291
Baby Steps to Parenting, a 10-week prevention program, was developed for mothers of drug-exposed infants in response to the high percentage of referrals to county services due to prenatal drug exposure. The program addresses the needs of mothers, including help with depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, etc., and those of the exposed infants. Central to the program is the concept of “bundling” services such as group therapy, nutrition/exercise classes, and infant massage classes. The pilot group was funded through in-kind contributions; the program is a long-term investment with potential savings coming from families not re-entering the child welfare services system. Pilot participants appreciated that it did not focus on past drug use and included listening and reflection. None of the participants have re-entered the system.
700,001 and Above
Alameda County — Eden Area Livability Initiative
Seth Kaplan, Chief of Staff
Board of Supervisor District 4
1221 Oak Street, Suite 536
Oakland, CA 94612
The Eden Area Livability Initiative used community engagement, visioning and strategic planning to improve quality of life in urban unincorporated communities of Alameda County. The initiative is successful because of increased inter-agency coordination, community engagement, and short-term problem-solving with long-term solutions in mind. Meetings identified shared values and potential strategies for realizing those values; further topic-specific meetings generated catalyst projects. Funding came from a California Department of Transportation grant, and in-kind funding from county agencies serving the area. The efficient coordination of services and communication between agencies and communities has led the selection, by community election, of five improvement projects. A by-product of the Initiative is that citizens now have a better understanding of county government and more residents are engaged in decision making.
Alameda County — The Urban Male Health Initiative
Michael Shaw, Director
Urban Male Health Initiative
1000 Broadway, Suite 500
Oakland, CA 94607
The Urban Male Health Initiative uses various evidence-based programs to provide for the physical, psychological and emotional health needs of men At issue is the fact that men, especially men of color, in Alameda County face statistically higher rates of health risk and a greater degree of challenges in obtaining sufficient health care. Programs are geared toward men re-entering society from the state prison system; developing a holistic model of health care for men of color by collaborating with faith institutions, social services agencies, as well as other departments as such as probation and parole, and addressing racism and inequity through a forum that brings together male-serving agencies to address challenges facing urban males. The Initiative’s interventions are long-term and directed at systems change, with a focus on preventive medicine.
Alameda County — Small Business Solutions @ The Library
Gertrude Rooshan, Business Librarian
Alameda County Library
2450 Stevenson Blvd.
Fremont, CA 94538
The Fremont Library partnered with the city’s Economic Development Department, the Chamber of Commerce, the county’s Small Business Development Center, and the Small Business Administration to produce an ongoing series of seminars and workshops called “Small Business Solutions @ The Library.” This partnership provides small business owners with an avenue for growth and funding. The library hosts monthly events with various speakers, allowing small business owners to network and get support from interacting with experts in finance, taxation, legal services, accounting, etc. This model proves a win-win for all parties: the library fulfills its function by serving the community; partners fulfill their missions of assisting small business; and the business owners benefit from the networking and learning experience.
Contra Costa County — Library-a-Go-Go
Cathy Sanford Deputy County Librarian/ Support Services
1750 Oak Park Blvd.
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523
In an effort to improve the equity of service to communities on the outskirts of the county, the library installed Library-a-Go-Go, the first fully-automated, 24/7 library service in the country. The technology is a vending machine, similar to an ATM machine; it is capable of vending more than 400 books and is linked in real-time to the library account system. The library partnered with Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) to install machines at four stations to bring the library to commuters. Library-a-Go-Go is a cost-saving alternative to opening a new library branch, and allows the county library to serve populations residing a great distance from the local library. The project was funded through a Library Services and Technology Act grant from the California State Librarian.
Los Angeles County — Appeals and State Hearings
Lupe Luque, Division Chief, Department of Public Social Services
12860 Crossroads Parkway South
City of Industry, CA 91746
Phone: (562) 908-8320
Thirty-six percent of all state hearing requests in the State of California come from Los Angeles County, creating a severe backlog of cases. Many of these filings could have been resolved without a hearing; each hearing costs about $6,000. The Department of Public Social Services created a task force to find new ways to avoid costly hearings while ensuring participants get their entitled benefits. The task force created a PowerPoint/video presentation incorporating parodies of popular movies like “Star Wars” and “Forrest Gump” and well-known music to keep audiences engaged. This presentation has so far achieved its goal of assisting participants, while reducing the number of filings. The estimated cost savings for the period of January through April 2009 is almost $9 million. The department has also seen a 27 percent increase in the number of filings resolved without a hearing.
Los Angeles County — Juror Online Orientation
Gloria Gomez, Director of Juror Services
Los Angeles Superior Court, Stanley Mosk Courthouse, Room #1510
320 W. Temple Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Phone: (213) 974-5814
The Los Angeles Superior Court handles upwards of 10,000 jurors a day, making it a priority to streamline processing. In May 2008, the Juror Online Orientation became the first program in the nation to provide an interactive juror orientation via the Web. The orientation meets two specific challenges: improving juror services and speeding up juror processing. Jurors can complete the training at home and print out a certificate in advance. This allows potential jurors to arrive at court one to two hours later on the initial reporting day. Since its inception, more than 7,000 jurors have been trained. The program has received positive feedback from 97 percent of jurors who completed a survey.
Los Angeles County — Foreclosure Prevention Project
Kirk Shelton, Consumer Affairs Specialist
Department of Consumer Affairs
500 W. Temple Street, Room B-96
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Phone: (213) 974-4615
Foreclosure notices in Los Angeles County have skyrocketed 4,800 percent over the past three years alone, more than 37,000 in 2008 alone. The Department of Consumer Affairs quickly responded to try and help people facing the real possibility of losing their homes. The department created the multi-faceted Foreclosure Prevention Project to deal with the rapidly developing crisis. The department trained its employees to offer counseling about the rights of homeowners. The department also developed new Foreclosure Rescue Scam brochures and created a prominent section of its Web site to reach out to county residents. Consumer Affairs also made a concerted effort to enter into the community with events and workshops. The program has saved more than 115 homes, as well as $64 million in restitution for homeowners.
Los Angeles County — Online Job Track System
Barbara Knighton, Chief, Human Resources Division
County of Los Angeles, Department of Public Works
P.O. Box 1460
Alhambra, CA 91802
Phone: (626) 458-2100
Los Angeles County’s Department of Public Works previously posted job opportunities on bulletin boards at its headquarters. Complaints appeared from employees who said they did not see the notices and missed the chance to apply for jobs. The county also believes it kept qualified applicants out of the job pool. The department’s Information Technology Division created the Job Track System to correct this problem. Now, employees only have to sign up for the types of departmental job classifications of interest and they will receive e-mail alerts when new jobs are posted. The system also sends alerts on lateral transfer opportunities. This system saves about $19,000 annually in staff time. The department has also seen a vast improvement in the distribution of job opportunities.
Orange County — Mobile Clinics for the Homeless
Eric Handler, M.D., Public Health Officer
Orange County Health Care Agency
405 W. 5th Street, 7th Floor
Santa Ana, CA 92701
Public Health Community Nursing partnered with private organizations to bring medical care to the homeless. It is challenging for public health nurses to regularly access homeless individuals, impeding the delivery of continuous medical care. The public health officer worked with public and private entities to find solutions: Kaiser Permanente provided volunteer physicians to conduct clinics; public health nurses provided assessment, education, and case management; County Behavioral Health and Medical Services Initiative (indigent health insurance) provided immediate linkage and insurance application assistance; and a private, non-profit provided funding for medications/prescriptions. With this model, Public Health Nursing was able to promote the goals of the mobile clinics, which are to link clients to medical homes and a way to pay for care.
Orange County — Tracking Automated Graffiti Reporting System
Lieutenant James Rudy
OCTA Transit Police Services
PO Box 14184
Orange, CA 92863
The Tracking Automated Graffiti Reporting System (TAGRS) is a clearinghouse that enables law enforcement and public works agencies to capture, share and investigate graffiti incidents. Previously, the public works and law enforcement agencies did a mediocre job of tracking costs, incidents and arrests. Their ability to network and share information with partner cities and law enforcement agencies was impeded by the lack of a central clearinghouse. This Web-based program maximizes staff time to the tune of a 90 percent reduction in administrative project time to document the necessary information. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department spent $40,000 for the program; the OCTA Transit Police Services reports a 20 percent increase in cases of cleared graffiti and a cost reduction of $50,000. This one savings alone has paid for the program.
Riverside County — BIA/Riverside County Streamlining Strike Force
Lela Weiss, TLMA Ombudsman
Transportation and Land Management Agency
PO Box 1605
Riverside, CA 92502
In the face of record unemployment and severely reduced construction as a result of the economic downturn, the county Board of Supervisors formed the Building Industry Association/Riverside County Streamlining Strike Force to act as a catalyst to indentify and enact measures to streamline the planning and permitting process. The Strike Force is a collaboration of a myriad of county agencies, ranging from transportation and planning to county counsel and flood control. The Strike Force systematically reviews and challenges each department to re-assess processes to ensure greater transparency, predictability, cost savings and time reductions. The efficiencies and cost savings as a result of the efforts of the Strike Force assist in the recovery of the local economy.
Riverside County — Engaging the Millennial Generation in Public Service
Ronald W. Komers, Assistant County Executive Officer/Human Resources Director
4080 Lemon Street, 7th Floor
Riverside, CA 92501
The Educational Support Program is a comprehensive approach to deal with the continuous skills gap and knowledge deficiency facing the Inland Empire Region’s ability to fill key public sector positions as a result of the growing number of retirees combined with the low number of college-educated individuals. The program includes university partnerships, showcasing career opportunities with the county, and grassroots student networking. Events include informational interviews, workshops, internships, presentations, and the like to broaden students’ knowledge of local government and the career opportunities available. This comprehensive approach to college recruiting has provided exposure to local government service for the next generation of professionals and made Riverside County an employer highly sought after by college graduates.
Riverside County — Landfill Vector Control
Fouad Mina, Engineering Project Manager
Riverside County Waste Management
14310 Frederick Street
Moreno Valley, CA 92553
The Riverside County Waste Management Department operates the Lamb Canyon Sanitary Landfill and must adhere to the standards of Title 27, which include providing an effective vector control for the existing bird population. Previous deterrent measures were difficult to maintain (overhead string line impeding the birds’ ability to land) or lost potency (bird screecher, bird cannon, and balloon with predator eyes) when the birds realized they do not pose a real threat and become accustomed to the noise. The department decided to introduce a real threat to the bird population: a falcon. Trained falcons fly above the disposal pad and successfully deter the birds. While the falconry service is costly, it is less so than the regulatory fines the landfill would receive otherwise.
Riverside County — Santa Ana River Trail and Parkway Partnership
Patricia Lock-Dawson, Consultant and Chief Strategist
4600 Crestmore Road
Riverside, CA 92509
The Santa Ana River Trail and Parkway Partnership was created in 2005 to finish the 100-mile trail running along the Santa Ana River from the San Bernardino Mountains to the coast of the Pacific Ocean. The project required cooperation across city and county lines since it involves Riverside, Orange and San Bernardino Counties, the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority, the Wildlands Conservancy and 16 cities to finish was what started in 1950. The partnership has thus far been extremely effective in reaching goals including: securing $45 million in state bond funding; completing nine miles of trail; conducting an inventory of missing segments and adopting a five-year work plan; and joining San Bernardino and Riverside Counties in a 19-mile continuous ribbon.
Riverside County — Seclusion and Restraint Reduction Program
Ellie Bennett, COO
Riverside County Regional Medical Center
26520 Cactus Avenue
Moreno Valley, 92555
The psychiatric unit at the Riverside County Regional Medical Center has realized a culture shift to achieve 700 percent reduction in the use of seclusion and restraint from 2001 to 2008. Seclusion and restraint is now considered a last resort, as this intervention technique poses safety risks to both staff and patients. The culture change came through education and oversight: staff was trained in Management of Assaultive Behavior, which included de-escalation and early intervention to mitigate the need for restraint techniques. Existing staff, resources and training materials were used with training programs revised to emphasize preventative measures to keep the risk of injury to self and others low to ensure a safe environment. The goal continues to be the total elimination of seclusion and restraint.
San Diego County — Life Skills for Foster Youth
Patty Kay Danon, Assistant Deputy Director
6950 Levant Street
San Diego, CA 92111
Phone: (858) 694-5413
Youths emancipating from the foster care system need help to develop critical skills to achieve self-sufficiency. The County of San Diego Child Welfare Service (CWS) and San Diego Workforce Partnership (SDWP) joined forces to fund new, comprehensive approaches that provide a wide range of services to meet the target population; while at the same time, combining limited resources. The agencies created a Statement of Work that outlines Tier I and II services and a flowchart to help usher youth through the program. Youth receive supportive services, like housing and transportation, while also learning how to apply for schools and jobs. The agencies have received more than $2.4 million in funding to date. The success of the program is measured by rising rates of full-time employment or education enrollment.
San Diego County — Quality Standards Inspection Process Re-engineering
David Estrella, Assistant Director
3989 Ruffin Road
San Diego, CA 92123
Phone: (858) 694-4816
The Housing Authority of the County of San Diego (HACSD) found a new way to efficiently complete its required 12,500 Housing Quality Standards (HQS) inspections each year. The department reduced its inspection staff from 33 to six housing specialists, reducing the number of required vehicles and maintenance costs. At the same time, the remaining 27 case managers could focus solely on customer service issues from the office. The county also reduced costs by reducing the inspection vehicle fleet from 16 gas-powered cars to 10 hybrid cars. This has saved the county more than $10,000 in the first year and reduced vehicle maintenance costs by 18 percent.
San Mateo County Sheriff’s Re-Entry Workgroup
Debra Keller, Program Services Manager
400 County Center
Redwood City, CA 94063
Phone: (650) 363-4654
San Mateo County officials knew they needed to try something different with regards to the county’s criminal recidivism rate. Several agencies worked together to form the Re-entry Workgroup in 2007. The overall vision was to reduce recidivism and jail overcrowding while increasing treatment accessibility to offenders. The group worked to get more offenders into local treatment programs in lieu of jail time. The Sheriff’s Office nearly doubled its in-custody substance abuse program for successful re-entries. The success of the program is clear: in the first 16 months, the program placed 202 offenders into residential treatment programs. They were released an average of 93 days early, a cost savings of $1.4 million dollars. One year after release, these offenders had a much lower recidivism rate of 34 percent.