2005 Challenge Award Recipients
Every one of California’s 58 county has developed and implemented creative programs and services, and the Challenge Awards program is one way that CSAC helps publicize these programs.
Challenge Award Recipients
Alameda County — Foster Care Automated Tracking System
Don R. Edwards
Interim Administration and Information Systems Director
Alameda County Social Services Agency
1106 Madison Street
Oakland, CA 94607
In 2004, the Alameda County Social Services Agency discovered it had overpaid foster care providers more than $17 millionmore than $17 million for services during the previous seven years, due mainly to inefficient tracking of payment procedures. To correct the problem, the county put into place a first-of-its-kind automated voice response system that communicates directly with the agency’s computer system and prevents overpayments. The new system requires all child care workers and providers to report on each child monthly before a check is issued. Workers communicate a child’s changed status using the telephone keypad and voice-recording system, and foster care providers use the system and its Web interface to report a child’s status for the previous month in order to receive payment. So successful was the system that overpayments were reduced by $1.7 million in the first two years, easily justifying its $157,620 cost. Monthly overpayments have dropped from a high of $242,000 in 2001 to just $7,500 in May 2005. Moreover, foster care providers now receive faster payments.
Butte County – Soaking Up the Sun
Chief Administrative Officer
25 County Center Drive
Oroville, CA 95965
Butte County is well ahead of the curve on energy-consumption and cost-saving power solutions. In 1995, the county began an energy management program that first included retrofitting heating, air conditioning and lighting systems. From 2002 to 2004, the county strategically installed a series of roof-mounted photovoltaic panels on various buildings, earning credits for the use of solar power while achieving optimal energy costs savings, maintenance reduction and environmental friendliness. Last year, construction was completed on a 1.18-megawatt solar plant that now serves the county’s administration building as well as several jail facilities. Funded through a combination of state and federal energy credits, the plant has resulted in the county saving $317,000 annually in energy costs. The project was built entirely by workers recruited within the Butte County labor force, steel structures for the system were fabricated in Butte County, and at the time of completion, the county was in the unique position of having completed the only known all-American-made solar energy system of this scale. Due to the success of the project, Butte County is planning for construction of a second solar plant later this year.
Contra Costa County – ILSP Speakers Bureau
Contra Costa County Administrator’s Office
40 Douglas Drive
Martinez, CA 94553
Growing up in foster care can present serious obstacles to children. But who better to share struggles, obstacles and solutions than youth who have gone through the system? Contra Costa County formed a speakers bureau that includes current and former foster youth who give an invaluable perspective to newer youths in the system, helping others successfully transition to adulthood. With less than $1,000 to get the program off the ground, the county hired a speech coach, and in just one year the Speakers Bureau has made more than 40 presentations to inform community members on foster youth issues and to rally support for care and transitioning. Included were two trips to Washington, D.C., to testify before child welfare redesign committees. Some of the presentations’ results are a yearly $1,500 scholarship for college-bound foster youth, a $12,000 donation for a resource binder for graduating youth, thousands of dollars in donations of goods and the recruitment of new foster and adoptive parents. The Speakers Bureau has given participants an extraordinary experience, telling the story of growing up in foster care as only someone who has lived the life can.
Los Angeles County – Library Self-Service Pilot
Public Information Officer
Los Angeles County Public Library
7400 East Imperial Highway
Downey, CA 90242
Los Angeles County’s popular new Canyon Country Jo Anne Darcy Library highlighted a problem also occurring at other facilities: There wasn’t enough staff for all the different librarian duties, and there wasn’t funding to hire more. Automating librarians’ circulation duties was the answer. With a county grant of $178,000, the library staff bought self-checkout machines and implemented self-service pick-up requests, self-sorting returns, customer-placed Internet reservations and expanded display areas to encourage browsing. Not only did these steps increase customer convenience, but also freed staff from such routine clerical circulation duties as checking out materials, allowing them to provide greatly increased reference and other customer assistance services. Eighty-one percent of customers surveyed found their experience at the revamped library to be “excellent” — an 11-percent increase from the previous system — plus enhanced staff assistance and reduced waiting times were praised. The project not only met the challenge of the Canyon Country Jo Anne Darcy Library, but also gave insight and experience in the use of self-service tools to offer staffing and service answers for the county’s 84 other libraries.
Madera County – Lost & Found
John P. Anderson
Madera County Sheriff’s Department
14143 Road 28
Madera, CA 93638
The Madera County Sheriff’s Department averages between six and 10 searches of lost hikers, boaters and developmentally or medically disabled individuals per year, with searches for the developmentally or medically disabled the most frequent. Failure to locate a person quickly could result in tragedy, as happened in 2003, when an elderly woman with dementia wandered away from her home and died despite the help of hundreds of searchers and a $100,000 search cost. To help prevent tragedies like this one, the department researched the purchase of tracking devices, worn on the wrist like a bracelet, to track a person’s whereabouts from one to three miles. Financed entirely through private donations, 28 tracking bracelets were provided to people in need, and a publicity campaign let families know that bracelets were available even to those who could not afford them. Users’ wandering incidents are down, and the program has resulted in deputies being contacted first in the event of someone getting lost. Neighboring Mariposa County has since initiated a similar program.
Riverside County – Creating Livable Communities — The Public Health Partnership
Sandra J. Jackson
Public Health Program Coordinator
Department of Public Health
P.O. Box 7600
Riverside, CA 92513
Riverside County’s continuing population and building boom is expected to add 1 million new residents by 2025. Traffic congestion and low utilization of mass transit as well as cardiovascular disease and obesity are major concerns of county staff who need to find ways to accommodate new and existing residents. These environmental and health issues prompted the Riverside County Department of Public Health to create more livable communities within its long-term Strategic Plan. The solution involved forging a wide range of partnerships with key local public health agencies and advocacy groups. Workshops were held. Staff worked with developers on how designs of future communities can best benefit the population. Funded through four different grants, the strategy is showing early results. Pedestrian safety and design standards have been included into Riverside’s General Plan. Thirty-five safe-walking routes have been identified in every city neighborhood. A Web site — www.rivco-buildhealth.org — now offers listings of events and information on incorporating healthy habits into everydayactivities. Creating Livable Communities is helping to lead the way toward smart growth and better health in one of the fastest-growing counties in the nation.
Riverside County – Youth Accountability Team
Riverside County District Attorney’s Office
4075 Main Street
Riverside, CA 92501
Studies show that a comprehensive, community-based approach through early intervention is the most effective means of ensuring that at-risk youth are steered away from a life of crime. Faced with the challenge of combating juvenile crime, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office created the Youth Accountability Team — comprised of local police agencies, probation departments, schools and the District Attorney’s Office — to provide children and their families with services and tools to prevent juvenile criminal behavior. Funding is provided through the county’s Probation Department under the Juvenile Justice Crime Prevention Act, at a cost of about $700,000 for six deputy district attorneys to support the program full time. In addition, reduced crime, law enforcement and court costs have meant big savings for county taxpayers. Today, the original two Youth Accountability Teams created in 1997 have multiplied into 17 teams serving school districts throughout the county. In Riverside County, 86 percent of children participating on a Youth Accountability Team stayed out of trouble and redirected their energies in more productive ways. This program has become a model for other state and national communities.
San Diego County – Amazon Wish List Project
San Diego County Library
5555 Overland Avenue, Suite 15
San Diego, CA 92123
Even with loyal, hard-working Friends of the Library groups to assist, the San Diego County Library still needs more books than it can afford. The library looked to Amazon.com for help in soliciting donations. The retailer’s site includes a “wish list” feature — much like an online version of a gift registry at a department store — which the library adapted for its own use. Staff compiled wish lists for different branches, composed library profiles, and learned how to update and monitor lists and reply to donors. Library staff got the word out to potential donors through such means as eye-catching fliers and bookmarks customized for each branch, news releases created with the help of the county’s Department of Media and Public Relations, and an icon on branch Web pages. The Amazon program is free; publicity cost only $250. In just nine months, the library received 107 donations valued at more than $2,000.
San Mateo County – One-e-App – One-Stop Health Insurance Application and Enrollment
Interim Deputy Director
San Mateo County
225 37th Avenue
San Mateo, CA 94403
Providing health insurance to underserved segments of the population is one of the greatest challenges San Mateo and other counties face today — a challenge made more difficult when individuals, families and staff are faced with a bureaucratic maze of applications, contacts and eligibility rules. By joining with local health agencies, the San Mateo County Health Department used $550,000 in federal and state grants to develop the One-e-App system. This system creates a user-friendly, one-stop-shop approach to health care assistance by enabling individuals and families to be screened and enrolled into all publicly funded health programs through a single Web-based tool. One-e-App eliminates the need for meetings with multiple types of workers from an assortment of agencies to complete various applications. As a result, applications are completed more accurately, savings are realized, customer and staff satisfaction is up, and San Mateo County has set a benchmark for streamlining health insurance enrollment, with the One-e-App system now being implemented by other counties as well.
Santa Clara County – Sheriff’s Office Tactical Medical Team
Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office
55 West Younger
San Jose, CA 95110
In 1999, the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office developed the volunteer Tactical Medical Team to respond to crucial police incidents throughout the county to which traditional paramedics have difficulty responding, such as hostage negotiations or exposures to chemical and biological agents. The county put together a group of volunteer physicians, nurses and paramedics with an interest in law enforcement that today has become an integral part of the sheriff’s overall emergency response strategy. Volunteers are trained monthly through reserve officer training programs, becoming familiar with the department’s tactical officers and procedures. Costs for the volunteer team’s medical equipment are covered by asset seizure funds, and replacement of non-durable medical and pharmaceutical supplies equates to only about $1,000 a year. A key benefit: lowered risk of liability claims in high-risk situations that could potentially devastate a community. Moreover, the team has been used on a number of tactical incidents by other local police departments, and has been emulated by other law enforcement agencies throughout the country.
Merit Award Recipients
Butte County – In-Home Supportive Services Fraud Program
Butte County Department of Employment and Social Services
P.O. Box 1649
Oroville, CA 95965
In 2003, the Butte County Social Services Department faced a major challenge: stem the tide of fraudulent claims that was costing the county thousands of dollars in the face of growing caseloads of low-income, disabled, elderly, dependent adults and disabled children. The solution showcased a newly created fraud prevention program that included provider orientations, cross-linking program reports to red-flag potential fraud and the tightening up of overpayment collection processes. The program identified several areas of fraudulent activities such as forged signatures and claiming hours while the care provider or client was hospitalized. The department also created a successful overpayment collection process for those who were able to avoid prosecution by agreeing to make restitution. The program has seen noteworthy success: $98,253 in fraudulent overpayments were identified and restitution paid in 2004, and during the first quarter of 2005, more than $24,000 in overpayments has been identified. The program was paid for through a combination of allocations from various social services departments and offices within the county. Many other counties have contacted Butte County for help in setting up their own programs.
Contra Costa County – The KEYS Auto Loan Program
Contra Costa County Administrator’s Office
40 Douglas Drive
Martinez, CA 94553
Without personal cars to provide transportation to employment and to children’s schools or daycares, many CalWORKs participants — primarily single mothers — have difficulty successfully making the transition to work or retaining and advancing their employment. To solve this problem, Contra Costa County created an auto loan program tailored specifically to CalWORKs recipients. Through the KEYS — Keeping Employment equals Your Success — Loan Program, clients are weighted more toward disposable income rather than overall credit history, creating a hassle-free loan experience. Financial coordinators, working with the county and the Contra Costa County Credit Union, help clients find affordable, reliable vehicles. Applicants also complete budget and basic auto maintenance courses before the loan is funded. Since the program’s inception in 2003, 35 CalWORKs participants have received auto loans ranging from $1,500 to $4,000, with just two defaults. Through the loan program’s repayment process, the majority of the program funding is self-sustaining. Overall, the KEYS Program has saved the department nearly $550,000 in its first two years. Moreover, participants responding to surveys are realizing higher salaries and more promotional opportunities, as well as budgeting better and spending more quality time with their families.
Contra Costa County – Consolidated Veterans Memorial Building
Chief Assistant County Administrator
Contra Costa County Administrator’s Office
651 Pine Street, 11th Floor
Martinez, CA 94553
Two old and decaying veterans halls in the adjacent cities of Walnut Creek and Lafayette had improbable paths toward a bright future. Contra Costa County civic leaders and veterans groups joined forces and agreed to consolidate into one, brand-new veterans building. County and city negotiators met and discussed funding sources for the new facility’s $7 million price tag, creating a cost-sharing agreement for the three public agencies. Hours of meetings with veterans groups helped smooth the transition to a new location. The teamwork paid off: The new 9,100-square-foot Consolidated Veterans Memorial Building, designed by the nationally acclaimed firm Field Paoli Architects, was dedicated on May 30, 2005. Featuring meeting rooms, state-of-the-art audio-visual systems and a restaurant-style kitchen, the attractive facility is expected to generate sufficient revenue to pay for its ongoing upkeep. The new building receives positive citizen feedback for its modern design, represents a diverse veterans community and sets a major example of cooperation for other counties, cities and community groups to follow when grappling with dilapidated veterans halls in their own areas.
Contra Costa County – Watershed Calendar
Contra Costa County Department of Public Works
255 Glacier Drive
Martinez, CA 94553
Watersheds play a crucial role in the daily lives of Contra Costa County residents. That’s why it was imperative for county water and environmental planners to improve public education and outreach on watershed and pollution prevention issues. Previous educational outreach by the Department of Public Works was limited due to staffing and funding constraints. But the department created a cost-effective solution: a calendar, designed to be a useful tool for residents to find ways to take action in their local watersheds to improve storm water quality. Approximately 49,000 calendars were produced and mailed to residents and businesses, bringing the water-quality message directly to people’s homes and workplaces. The total cost per calendar was $1.59 — a fraction of the cost of the department’s traditional outreach efforts such as attending community events, providing literature and promotional items, and paying for contracted classroom presentations. The calendars were a huge hit, creating a buzz within the community that was far more effective than traditional outreach efforts. Because of the calendar’s success, other cities and agencies have called to inquire about future partnership opportunities, making the Contra Costa Watershed Calendar a sought-after annual item.
Los Angeles County – Students and the Police
Los Angeles County
Department of Ombudsman
510 South Vermont Street,
Los Angeles, CA 90020
Relationships between youth and police are often strained, even in the best of times, but young people are often uninformed or misinformed about law-enforcement officers. The dearth of either adequate or proper information allows youth to easily be manipulated by those who may not have the best interests of the community at heart. Created by Los Angeles County’s Ombudsman, educators and law-enforcement agencies, the Students and the Police program closes these information gaps and helps make youth critical partners in creating a safe and secure community. Funded through a $150,000 county grant, the program features a booklet that was field-tested by diverse student bodies to ensure appeal, as well as a training curriculum for officers and high-school teachers, which stimulates discussion and provides accurate information on such issues as traffic stops, profile stops and consensual encounters. Students and the Police has been enthusiastically received by students, law enforcement agencies and the 15 school districts and one probation department participating so far. It is now expanding to the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Los Angeles County – Volunteering – The Cornerstone of Democracy
Election Services Bureau Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk
Los Angeles County
12400 Imperial Highway — 7001
Norwalk, CA 90651
Los Angeles County’s Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk is responsible for finding, training and placing 30,000 volunteer poll workers for each election day to assist nearly 4,100,000 registered voters. But volunteers were becoming harder and harder to come by, with the traditional pool of retired persons and housewives dwindling as the group ages. Creative thinking coupled with strategic planning was the only way to reach prospective volunteers. A carefully planned, low-budget poll worker education and outreach program used tactically placed advertisements and an old-fashioned recruitment message of volunteerism to motivate people to sign up. The department also targeted special outreach efforts to county workers, high-school students, college students and service clubs. These innovative techniques expanded the traditional volunteer pool by almost 40 percent, with 11,990 new volunteers on board for the 2004 general election. Thanks to the department’s outreach efforts and the thousands of new volunteers, record numbers of ballots were issued and processed accurately, and more than 4,200 polling places were open on time and operated smoothly.
Napa County – AgendaNet: Transforming Service Delivery to the Community
Contact: Pamela Miller
Clerk of the Board/Administrative Manager
Napa County Board of Supervisors
1195 Third Street, Suite 310
Napa, CA 94559
Napa County’s Clerk of the Board of Supervisors assembles and distributes 23 board agenda packets weekly, totaling nearly 256,000 pages that are copied manually each year. This time-consuming task involves an inordinate amount of staff time and resources to complete, and often prevents the public from getting free information on future board meetings and related materials in a timely matter. To alleviate this problem, the Clerk of the Board helped enlist the assistance of several county government offices to create an online agenda that is totally automated, and an agenda system that can be used as a searchable archive. The county utilized its own existing technology infrastructure, instead of using available commercial vendor solutions, creating as much as $100,000 in project cost savings right off the bat. Making the agenda available on the Internet has saved $300,000 in staff time and materials annually. Board agendas, letters and supporting documents are now all published directly to the county’s Web site for citizens to read, research and download at any time.
Napa County – Creative Collaboration Produces City-County Housing Agreements
Community Partnership Manager
1195 Third Street
Napa, CA 94559
Five years ago, relations between Napa County’s five cities and the county were strained due to stark differences in policy regarding regional housing needs, industrial area planning and other issues. Inter-jurisdictional coordination had degraded to formal letters, meeting appearances — even a lawsuit. State Assembly Member Patricia Wiggins provided the impetus for a group of elected officials from the county and each of the cities to meet and discuss how they might better work together to protect agricultural and environmentally sensitive lands while addressing requirements in state housing law. Today, the seeds of that first meeting have evolved into major agreements being forged and adopted by the Napa County Board of Supervisors. So far, the agreements have resulted in a compromise on annexation of lands and the construction of a downtown parking garage, as well as revenue-sharing as reallocated housing units are built after July 2006. The new partnerships were instrumental in staving off negative impacts to the county’s $10 billion wine industry as well as other costs of urban sprawl. Perhaps the most important outcome is the renewed spirit of cooperation among the county and its cities.
Orange County – Dana Point Harbor Clean and Green Campaign
Department of Environmental Health
1241 East Dyer Road, Suite 120
Santa Ana, CA 92705
In 1997, boaters’ engine leaks and spillage during oil changes were contaminating ocean recreational waters and affecting marine life. The challenge was to provide boaters with an effective way to dispose of oil contamination commonly found in the bottoms of their crafts. In response, the Orange County Health Care Agency began offering a free exchange program for bilge pads — large, absorbent pads boaters use to absorb leaking oil. Paid for through grants and partnerships, the pads were given away free to boaters at local boating events and at marinas, and new drop-off containers for used bilge pads were installed at the Dana Point marina. Once the exchange program was in place, an educational and promotional campaign — Got a Boat, Use a Pad — was launched to ensure that boaters took advantage of the program. The campaign was a tremendous success. In six months, nine drums of used pads were collected and disposed of, accounting for 1,800 soiled pads. In 2004, approximately 500 gallons of oily water was successfully diverted from ocean recreational waters. A duplicate campaign is now under way at another Orange County harbor.
Riverside County – DPSS: Building Foundations for Family Financial Self-Sufficiency
Riverside County Department of Public Social Services
4060 County Circle Drive
Riverside, CA 92503
Research shows that up to 25 percent of earned income tax credits go unclaimed each year — numbers that are much higher among clients on public assistance. Often these clients and others lack the means or wherewithal at tax time to make sure every allowable deduction and credit is taken. Riverside County’s Department of Public Social Services took the initiative to get these people their tax credits back. Working with the federal Internal Revenue Service, the department launched volunteer income tax assistance centers in Welfare-to-Work offices throughout the county. The department also marketed its tax-preparation services through posters, handouts and direct mail items. Tax training books and preparation materials came free of charge from the federal agency; CalWORKs funds offset equipment, marketing and staff costs. The results proved to be a boon for CalWORKs and other public assistance recipients. Federal refunds since the program started in 2002 have totaled $5.3 million, averaging about $1,635 per client. Department staff also encourage clients to save for the future and, though lessons learned, these best practices have put many families on the path toward financial freedom.
Riverside County – Pilot County Implementation: SB 1732 Court Transfer Act
Deputy County Executive Officer
4080 Lemon Street, Fourth Floor
Riverside, CA 92501
Riverside County is the first county in California to implement the Court Facility Transfer Act by transferring responsibility of a court facility — the Larson Justice Center in Indio — to the State Administrative Office of the Courts. The challenge was to develop an agreement between the county and the state that would serve not only to help the Larson Justice Center’s transfer, but also to act as the standard for future court transfers throughout the county and state. An internal county committee was formed, meeting weekly to be able to respond quickly to the demands required by the measure. Even with such issues as insurance, parking and third-party vendors that varied from facility to facility, the committee was able to create a standard agreement for current and future use. This collaborative process in turn saved the county thousands of dollars that would have been spent in contracting out for negotiations. The Riverside County committee now is working on transferring other facilities, including leased facilities. The pressure of being the first county in the state to implement the transfer was always on the minds of staff members, but the monumental effort was made manageable by the cooperative committee effort.
Riverside County – Waste Management Department Waste Recycling Program
Waste Management Department
14310 Frederick Street
Moreno Valley, CA 92553
In 2001, the California Integrated Waste Management Board issued a ban on the disposal of all cathode ray tubes in landfills because of high lead content. Riverside County was faced with more than 30,000 tubes having been disposed of in local dumps as well as associated contracted recycling costs, which stood to endanger other vital county programs. The county’s Waste Management Department called upon the county’s Waste Recycling Program personnel who offered a solution: dismantle each cathode unit, selling off various components to environmentally compliant companies. Earlier in 2005, the Waste Management Department was approved both as an electronic waste collector and recycler, which now qualifies the department to collect 48 cents per pound for each cathode tube recycled. Other waste streams — copper, brass, aluminum, usable items and other electronics that are broken down and sold — are now aggressively recycled to help fund the endeavor. Plus the in-house effort and the creative solutions from staff minimized the need for a large budget, and staff now are helping bring the program to other municipalities. The real winners: county residents, who now have a solid e-waste collection program.
Riverside County – WorkPlus Time Limited Tuition Project
Supervising Employment Services Counselor
Department of Public Social Services
4060 County Circle Drive
Riverside, CA 92503
Matching people with resources is what the WorkPlus Time Limited Tuition Project is all about. Realizing that a job is not enough for low-income or welfare families to be self-sufficient, Riverside County’s Department of Public Social Services established a career path through this new project, which promotes value of work, helps applicants find jobs and provides educational resources for training. Funded with an initial $750,000 from federal needy families programs, WorkPlus initially enrolled 245 people for training during 2003, with services provided by such agencies as community colleges, local adult schools, vocational schools and public and private organizations. Tuition and supportive services costs were negotiated locally and paid directly to the training and education providers, and the county estimates that program costs are offset by savings for each WorkPlus participant who completes assigned activities and are able to use their new skills to advance or promote in chosen career fields. Approximately 75 percent of the original enrollees completed training, and today more than 100 are employed full time. More importantly, 156 people are now off welfare rolls. As people obtain the hope and promise of a better life, this program is leaving an indelible mark on Riverside County.
Sacramento County – Day Reporting Center
Assistant Chief Probation Officer
Sacramento County Probation Department
3201 Florin-Perkins Road
Sacramento, CA 95826
A specific group of high-risk juvenile offenders found to consistently disobey court orders and available interventions were routinely returned to court. As a result, this group often occupied a disproportionate amount of bed space in the overcrowded juvenile institutions. To help solve this problem, the Sacramento County Probation Department opened the Day Reporting Center in 1998. The center provides treatment and supervision to this group of individuals through schooling, therapy, mentoring and drug programs. Deputy probation officers and treatment providers are on-site daily and are accessible to both youth and their families. The approximately $1.5 million in yearly expenses is covered through grants and Juvenile Justice Crime Prevention Act funding. A multi-disciplinary team consisting of teachers, substance abuse counselors, probation officers and mentors began to have results. In 2003–2004, participants were three times more likely to successfully complete probation, when compared to high-risk youth who did not receive DRC services. Plus, 74 youth improved their grade-point averages and behavior enough to be transitioned from the center into educational programs within the community. Each year, the center continues to realize its goals of reducing recidivism and enhancing community safety.
Sacramento County – Dependency Drug Court
Sharon Di Pirro-Beard
Dependency Drug Court Coordinator
Department of Health and Human Services
7001-A East Parkway
Sacramento, CA 95823
Increased reports of suspected child abuse — many of which included alcohol or other drugs — prompted Sacramento County’s Department of Health and Human Services to establish a Dependency Drug Court as an alternative to jail or prison. By integrating chemical dependency treatment, community resources and ancillary services with the criminal justice system, the program specifically addresses the challenges associated with serving substance-involved families and increasing reunification rates. The Dependency Drug Court is paid for through a combination of Tobacco Litigation Settlement Funds and federal and state block grants. Outcomes have exceeded expectations. As of December 31, 2004, more than 52 percent of participating parents earned 90-day certificates of continuous compliance, with another 222 parents graduating from the program with 180 days of continuous compliance. In addition, 86 percent of parents entered alcohol and other drug treatment in order to make dramatic life changes to reclaim their children and achieve self-sufficiency. Another program benefit has been significant improvements in collaboration among county partners as they seek solutions for families. These successes underscore the efficacy of the county’s strategy to reunify parents and children and lessen the impact of family abuse associated with drug abuse.
San Diego County – Aging Summit
Pamela B. Smith
San Diego County Aging and Independence Services
9335 Hazard Way
San Diego, CA 92123
San Diego County’s Aging and Independence Services department needed a way for the entire community to come together and strategize on how to address the changing and expanding needs of the county’s large and growing senior population. Enter the Aging Summit, which provides a needed forum for a wide spectrum of stakeholders — including county supervisors, aging and disabled service consumers, service providers and community leaders — to discuss, propose and act on new approaches through breakout workshop groups and follow-up committees. This unique approach focuses the vast knowledge and expertise of community members to examine issues in new ways, establish shared priorities and develop innovative, creative and practical solutions. Funding for the daylong summits comes from sponsorships, exhibitors, registration fees and one-time allocations, making the cost-defraying format easy for other counties to replicate. A nationally recognized county senior and disabled call center, major intergenerational projects between schools and seniors, and the county’s first-in-the-nation intergenerational coordinator staff position are just a few products of these increasingly popular biennial summits.
San Diego County – Animal Euthanasia Reduction Program
Department of Animal Services
San Diego County
5480 Gaines Street
San Diego, CA 92110
Despite a commitment to place healthy, friendly pets in the community or reunite animals with owners whenever possible, increased animal populations and finite shelter capacity forced the San Diego County Department of Animal Services to euthanize otherwise adoptable animals. However, a multi-pronged approach has effectively stopped the euthanasia trend. The department now features expanded reunification and volunteer programs, spay/neuter financial assistance and discounts, aggressive identification microchip implant programs, a descriptive found-animal hotline and a revamped, user-friendly Web site featuring animal photos and adoption forms, among other tools. The department also collaborates with private shelters and more than 100 animal welfare organizations in the region to find homes for pets, and since fiscal year 2001–2002, nearly 33 percent of all adoptions have resulted from these valuable partnerships. The department’s comprehensive approach has ended the euthanasia of healthy, friendly animals in county animal shelters — all at a cost of less than 1-¼ percent of the department’s budget.
San Diego County – Project 100% Program
San Diego County District Attorney’s Office
330 West Broadway, Suite 1300
San Diego, CA 92101
Fraudulent public assistance recipients grab taxpayer dollars away from those truly in need. To stamp out this especially offensive form of theft, the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office created Project 100%, which uses interviews and home walkthroughs to confirm CalWORKs eligibility. To preserve both public and CalWORKs applicant rights, the applicants are notified on their benefit application form that investigators conduct home visits and walk-throughs when their applications are completed and submitted. The project’s goal is not to initiate criminal prosecution — rather, the goal is to confirm eligibility and prevent theft before a criminal case would otherwise be considered necessary. This county program annually comes within its $2 million budget for personnel and operating costs, and all costs are federally reimbursed. Under the project, one in four applicants has been found to have misrepresented information on their applications, leading to a denial or modification in benefits. In just the past three years, Project 100% has prevented millions of dollars in fraud.
San Francisco City and County – Care Not Cash
Director of Public Policy and Finance
Office of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom
City Hall, Room 288
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102
Homelessness has been a moral and ethical crisis facing the City and County of San Francisco for decades. As a county supervisor, Mayor Gavin Newsom pushed for a radical change in methodology through the Care Not Cash program, passed by voters in 2004 as a major reform toward solving homelessness. The primary goals of the program are to reduce homelessness and improve the health and welfare of homeless indigent adults. Elected participants receive cash assistance through permanent housing opportunities, employment counseling, food stamps and other services in connection with San Francisco’s “Housing First” initiative. This wrap-around program has seen impressive results. In one year, homelessness declined 41 percent. More than 95 percent of individuals that have been placed in permanent housing are still housed. And since its implementation, Care Not Cash has placed 876 chronically homeless individuals in newly created permanent housing. In that same time, the city and county’s General Assistance rolls decreased 73 percent — a decrease directly attributed to the program. The Care Not Cash program already has exceeded the expectations of its creators and is helping to ensure all city and county residents a healthy and fulfilling quality of life.
Santa Barbara County – Mental Health and Recovery Consumer Art Calendar
Santa Barbara County ADMHS
300 San Antonio Road
Santa Barbara, CA 93110
For more than 40 years, Santa Barbara County has been challenged to integrate individuals with mental illness into their communities: a tough task in any era. Unfortunately, little has been done over the years to prepare communities for these individuals. Inspired by works viewed at a local mental health art fair, county staff pursued a clever idea: create a calendar featuring works by local artisans with mental disabilities. By emphasizing their talents and not their disorders, the calendar showed that people can lead fulfilling lives despite serious diagnoses. The result was a barrier-shattering experience that helped remove social stigmas associated with certain mental disorders, as the artwork vibrantly expressed the rich humanity of the artists. Printing for the 1,000 calendars was donated by a local business, and, though the project was not intended to be a fundraiser, calendar sales came close to covering all associated costs. The calendars are inspiring the public, caregivers and the artists themselves, who get a great boost of self-esteem seeing their works recognized and are encouraged to move on to other artistic endeavors.
Santa Clara County – Creating a Powerful Communications and Information Tool
Clerk of the Board
Board of Supervisors
Santa Clara County
70 West Hedding Street, 10th Floor
San Jose, CA 95110
Santa Clara County wanted to improve public access to important policy, budget and other issues being deliberated by elected officials while decreasing cumbersome paperwork for public employees. Enter KeyBoard, an automated online system that provides virtually all public information at a citizen’s fingertips. The Clerk of the Board of Supervisors and the county’s Chief Information Officer fine-tuned a system that now can store and retrieve a wide range of information. KeyBoard not only streamlines the agenda process and provides expeditious flow of information, but also allows county staff to electronically write, scan and distribute supporting documents electronically. Cost was not cheap, but the $5.6 million price tag is being spread over multiple budget years. In addition, the system saves several million dollars annually in “soft” costs, such as staff time that now can be directed to other public services, as well as tens of thousands of dollars in annual “hard” costs savings by reducing the previous need for millions of sheets of paper.
Tuolumne County – Emergency Children’s Shelter
Department of Human Services
20111 Cedar Road North
Sonora, CA 95370
Tuolumne County was faced with a 46-percent increase in foster care cases and soaring turnover rates at Child Welfare Services. Sibling groups were often split up and education was disrupted. Moreover, placement of children in the first available spots did not allow for “matching” of foster parent to child, causing frequent moves. The solution: a collaboration between child-serving agencies produced a safe haven foster family shelter, with one set of parents, rather than hiring a vendor to staff the home on a shift basis. Through agency collaboration, children are ensured necessary medical, dental, education and behavioral health screenings on the spot. The project’s $617,000 cost was greatly defrayed by grants and major donations from community groups. Approximately $8,500 a month was saved but, more importantly, children were placed in a secure environment. Plus, placement changes following shelter stays are down and social workers’ quality time with children and families is up. Since January 2004, the shelter has served 202 children, maintaining 25 sets of siblings, with all children continuing their education at the same schools within their community.
Ventura County – Medical Center Pharmacy Assistance Program
Ventura County Medical Center
3291 Loma Vista Road
Ventura, CA 93003
As prescription medication costs go up, many patients forego important medications for other basic needs, placing themselves at risk for preventable medical crises and hospitalizations. For years, Ventura County Medical Center provided prescription medication at no cost to many severely ill indigent patients. But increased expenses, coupled with budget cutbacks, limited these benefits to only the most destitute with life-threatening medical conditions. And others, including employed individuals with families, fail to complete applications for prescription medications. In March 2003, the hospital introduced the Pharmacy Assistance Program, designed to reach out to non-insured and under-insured patients for whom medication costs would be prohibitive. Program staff assist patients in both English and Spanish by helping fill out applications, answering questions and submitting financials to pharmaceutical firms who produce specific medications they need. The $186,000 program has seen dramatic results: 1,462 eligible patients received 2,041 prescriptions at no cost, which translated into $50,000 to $70,000 in county savings during 2004. Thanks to this program, the costs of medications as well as the costs of hospitalization can be avoided.