2006 Challenge Award Recipients
CSAC’s Annual Challenge Awards honors a valuable trait we say every day in county government: innovation. California counties — rural, suburban and urban — are constantly facing new challenges. This year, CSAC received more than 200 entries that focused on a wide variety services counties provide; many of these innovative programs could be replicated in your county.
Challenge Award Recipients
Alameda County — Youth Leadership Academy
Contact: Crystal Hishida Graff
County Administrative Office
1221 Oak Street, Room 555
Oakland, CA 94612
The academy brings together a diverse group of high school students to actively learn about county government and ways to improve their communities. The academy includes five Saturday morning sessions at various county worksites over a five-month period. The sessions are interactive, providing opportunities for idea exchange with county supervisors and staff. There is also a student intern program. The results of the academy overall have been positive. Participant feedback has indicated that their knowledge of county government was greatly increased, and that they were inspired by the presenters. Many said they were considering a career in public service. The entire community benefits from increasing the number of informed and involved citizens.
Butte County — Precinct Officer Recruitment Program
Contact: Candace J. Grubbs
25 County Center Drive
Oroville, CA 95965-3375
The Clerk-Recorder’s Office partnered with the county Department of Employment and Social Services (DESS) to recruit, screen and test potential voting precinct officers. The 2006 Primary Election required 215 additional volunteers to assist in elections management. DESS offered the use of its employment centers, known as One-Stops, to recruit precinct officers at no additional cost to the Elections Division. One-Stop staff established screening criteria and developed a thorough testing process, and thus successfully referred hundreds of potential precinct office to county elections. The result was a very qualified group of precinct officers, with the added benefit of freeing the time of elections staff to focus on the implementation of electronic voting.
Los Angeles County — Law Library Self-Help Legal Access Center
Contact: John A. Clarke
Los Angeles Superior Court
Stanley Mosk Courthouse
111 N. Hill St., Room 105-E
Los Angeles, CA 90012
The Los Angeles County Law Library and Self-Help Legal Access Center have collaborated by pooling their resources to improve services to unrepresented litigants. As a result of this collaboration, attorneys have free access to online Westlaw services via a DSL connection. A Self-Help Legal Access Center was also developed in the law library of the Long Beach Courthouse. This resulted in improving self-help services and increased law library services. Each month, more than 4,000 individuals and families are assisted at the Self-Help Legal Access Center; more than 160,000 litigants have been assisted over the past five years. Court personnel have saved hundreds of hours of time previously spent reviewing incorrect forms and assisting ill-prepared individuals.
Madera County — Madera County Coalition
Contact: Stell Manfredi
County Administrative Officer
333 West Olive Avenue
Madera, CA 93637
The Madera County Coalition is a collaborative effort led by community leaders from county agencies, cities, schools, hospitals and law enforcement. The group has been meeting regularly since 2000 and has become a regional think tank on issues that impact Madera County residents. The forum also promotes the development of interpersonal relationships and has allowed for better understanding of each agency’s operations, issues and goals, while fostering the development of regional objectives. To date, there have been a number of success stories due in part to the efforts of the collaborative. The coalition played an important role in the passage of school bonds, and has also provided a venue for local legislators to maintain an open dialogue with local leaders.
Nevada County — NevCoMAX – Nevada County’s Local Materials Exchange
Contact: Lynne Cody
Department of Transportation and Sanitation
950 Maidu Ave.
Nevada City, CA 95959
Nevada County has hosted an online materials exchange, called NevCoMAX, since 2003. This exchange is the first in the state for local government and allows businesses to trade and obtain goods at little to no cost. The program was created in response to state recycling mandates, and utilizes the state’s CalMAX material exchange, on which there is a custom portal page for Nevada County. NevCoMAX’s impact has been far-reaching and provides numerous benefits to Nevada County recyclers and the community. The California Integrated Waste Management Board uses NevCoMAX as a model when assisting other local jurisdictions to set up a local materials exchange.
Riverside County — Preserving Cultural Sites While Balancing Growth
Contact: Robert Johnson
P.O. Box 1409
Riverside, CA 92502-1409
The county has a rich cultural heritage that encompasses 11 Native American populations, as well as multiple cultural groups. The challenge was to balance growth and its demands with the desire to preserve the county’s rich and diverse heritage. The county initiated a process that allowed tribes to review development proposals to assure that historic and sacred sites were properly regarded. The planning department created a single point of contact to coordinate tribal concerns on all land development proposals. The board of supervisors established a traditional resource advisory committee comprised of members from each tribe to advise the planning department on sacred sites. This program has resulted in the development of permanent historic easements, a training program for archaeologists and more.
Riverside County — Rapid Medical Evaluation
Contact: Luis Orozco
Assistant Hospital Administrator
Regional Medical Center
26520 Cactus Avenue
Moreno Valley, CA 92555
The purpose of the county’s Rapid Medical Evaluation (RME) is to reduce Emergency Department wait times by creating an integrated team approach and incorporating current technology, to move patients away from the waiting room to the treatment area more efficiently. It was implemented in three phases: planning and coordination, implementation of a quick registration process using mobile/wireless PC systems and implementation of physician and nurse/team assessments. The patient registration and clinical assessment processes were changed to be performed almost simultaneously, rather than sequentially. The average wait time in the Emergency Department has decreased from over two hours to an average of 30 minutes. The percentage of patients who walk away has decreased from 5.3% to 2.4%.
Riverside County — Tobacco Retail Licensing Program
Contact: Susan Harrington
Director of Public Health
4065 County Circle Drive
Riverside, CA 92503
The county had one of the highest rates of illegal sales of tobacco to minors in the state (44% of merchants). To help reduce this health threat, the county passed an ordinance requiring all tobacco retailers in the unincorporated areas to have a license. A retailer who sells to minors will have the license revoked, which could cost the retailer to lose $25,000 average per month in tobacco sales. There is no net cost to the county as enforcement activities and overhead is covered by revenues received from license fees. To date, four cities have adopted the same type of ordinance. Preliminary results have shown that tobacco sales to minors have dropped 50%.
Sutter County — Sutter County Smiles
Contact: Edmond Smith
Director of Human Services
1445 Veterans Memorial Circle
Yuba City, CA 95993
To solve the significant problem of lack of pediatric dental services for the uninsured, Sutter County created a partnership with its Children and Families Commission, local school district, and a local medical and dental provider to develop a mobile dental clinic. The mobile clinic goes to the children and does not depend on parents to bring their child to an office, thus boosting the number of children who can be seen each day. The result is “Sutter County Smiles,” which meets a growing need in the community. The clinic has provided thousands of X-rays, fillings, fluoride treatments, extracts and sealant treatments since April 2005. Children in Sutter County definitely have improved dental services due to this project.
Yolo County — Adopt-a-Social-Worker Program
Contact: Diana Williams
Director of Child Welfare Services
Yolo County Department of Employment and Social Services
25 North Cottonwood Street
Woodland, CA 95695
Employee burnout and high turnover rates in the field of child welfare are astronomical. Yolo County wanted to know what could be done to help turn this trend around. With help from a retired county services director, the Child Welfare Services Division founded the Adopt-a-Social Worker Program. The program links child welfare workers with faith-based organizations to offer workers donations, support, validation and appreciation for the hard work they perform. Not only does this free program provide a built-in support system for social workers and their respective caseloads, but also results in increased education and publicity about vital department services.
Merit Award Recipients
Los Angeles County — Courtroom to Classroom
Contact: John A. Clark
Executive Officer/Clerk Los Angeles
County Court Stanley Mosk Courthouse
111 N. Hill St., Room 105-E
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Through Courtroom to Classroom, teams of judges and attorneys lead class presentations and mock court activities to educate low-income youth about the Constitution. The program also provides adolescents with much-needed opportunities to interact with positive adult role models and to gain exposure to potential future careers. Now funded through the California Bar Association, the program involves nearly 90 judges and attorneys working with more than 1,000 eighth through 11th graders in mostly high-poverty, high-crime communities and low-performing schools. The program increases students’ academic knowledge of our constitutional heritage and their participatory skills. Teachers are finding that students who normally don’t participate in class are now participating and even leading their mock court groups.
Los Angeles County — District Attorney’s Juvenile Offender Intervention Network (JOIN)
Contact: Donna Wills
Head Deputy Community Prosecution Division
District Attorney’s Office
300 South Park Ave. Ste. 770
Pomona, CA 91776
The Juvenile Offender Intervention Network (JOIN) is a juvenile diversion program that provides swift intervention and accountability for nonviolent first-time offenders and reduces recidivism without formal prosecution. JOIN was implemented to catch serious, non-violent offenders between the ages of 12 and 17 who might otherwise “fall through thee cracks” in the justice system. Eighty percent of those eligible to sign up for JOIN take part in the program rather than go to juvenile court and enter into the traditional prosecution process. If a minor accepts the offer to be part of JOIN and successfully completes a one-year contract, he or she receives a congratulatory letter indicating the case will not be filed.
Los Angeles County — Helicopter Water Source Directory
Contact: John B. Tripp
Jr. Deputy Chief
Support Services Bureau
1320 N. Eastern Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90063
The Los Angeles County Fire Department’s Helicopter Water Source Directory is a comprehensive guide that allows incident commanders of large fire incidents to maximize the water delivery of rotary wing aircraft. The directory provides the incident commander with a visual map of all helispots and water sources in the area that reduces the time needed to make assignments to less than two minutes. The directory shows all available water sites for dipping. The end result is a quicker attack on the original fire and quicker containment before small fires become major incidents. Flight time and helicopter operating costs are also reduced. Use of this directory during the Southern California Fire Siege of 2003 proved its value.
Los Angeles County — In-House Software Development Program
Contact: Virginia Bortin
13837 Fiji Way
Marina del Rey, CA 90292
Like many government agencies, the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors was faced with the problem of maintaining accurate records. In 2001, the department initiated its multi-purpose In-House Software Development Program providing automated tracking of various necessary department operations. Developed to prevent costly record keeping errors, the program has produced software products that have dramatically reduced staff time for updating and retrieving data; reduced errors in filing and data entry; permitted additional tracking methods, charts and reports; and saved storage space. Custom software was developed to meet the needs of specific programs, resulting in a cost-savings of approximately $60,000 annually. The Department now enjoys greater employee productivity and efficiency.
Los Angeles County — Residential Wraparound
Contact: Dianne Davis
Department of Children and Family Services
500 W. Temple St., Room B-1
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Wraparound is a planning process that is based on the principles of unconditional care, which is strength-based, family-driven, and based on team decision-making to support families and provide for children in their home communities without the necessity of formal system involvement. Wraparound is funded by AB 163, which allows foster care dollars to be spent more flexibly in meeting the needs of youth. The program values the family as the expert on their children and makes the family central to all decisions. No decisions about the family can be made without them. Wraparound provides a new way of meeting the needs of the family by talking about strengths and needs rather than services. The program is allowing children to leave group homes quicker, saving the costs of care.
Nevada County — Composting and Manure Management – Large Acreage Technical Assistance Program
Contact: Lynne Cody
Department of Transportation and Sanitation
950 Maidu Ave.
Nevada City, CA 95959
Nevada County offers free composting consulting services to large acreage farmers and ranchers. These services are designed to reduce waste, health and water quality hazards. By identifying large generators of organic waste, Nevada County can help meet its state-mandated recycling goals. To make a new technical assistance and outreach program successful, a consultant was hired to educate, advise and stimulate a local economy for composted manure and agricultural residuals. Now in its third year, the consulting program has made significant inroads through workshops and on-site visits. The program also shows the state that Nevada County is making a good-faith effort to meet state goals and avoid fines.
Orange County — Employees’ Academic Volunteer Mentoring Program
Contact: Jane Dawson
Manager, Volunteer-Intern Resources
10 Civic Center Plaza, First Floor
Santa Ana, CA 92701
Phone: 714/834-7440E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
During the past seven years, Orange County has encourage its employees to use lunch hours to mentor elementary school students at approximately 50 school locations. To make it easier for employees to volunteer, managers are encouraged to be flexible in scheduling lunch hours. The program has a structured lesson plan that focuses on such subjects as reading comprehension, language development and vocabulary. There are no direct costs to the county other than the coordination of two employee recruitment campaigns. By supporting its employees and partnering with local schools, the county has enable more than 500 employee mentors to help youth build their future and feel more connected to their communities.
Riverside County — Coordinated Demographic Estimates and Projections
Contact: William Gayek
Center for Demographic Research
Transportation and Land Management Agency
4080 Lemon Street
Riverside, CA 92502
To ensure better coordination of demographic information for the county, the county and several government agencies, including the University of California, entered into a memorandum of understanding for the development of demographic data and related support products. The Center for Demographic research was created with the intention to service all of Riverside County, including the 24 cities, numerous special districts and various county departments and agencies. The center will ensure consistency for area planning among these parties. The center is located in the county’s transportation and land management agency, and capitalizes on that agency’s existing geographic information databases and programs.
Riverside County — Geel Place Apartments
Contact: Emilio Ramirez
Economic Development Agency
5555 Arlington Avenue
Riverside, CA 92504
The Department of Mental Health estimates that at any time, 147 mentally ill persons are homeless in the county. The department and the Economic Development Agency joined efforts to provide an affordable housing facility for homeless mentally ill patients. They partnered with the Coachella Valley Housing Coalition to develop and operate a 45-unit single-residency occupancy housing complex on two acres of county-owned land. The Geel Place Apartments provide housing for people with multiple mental disabilities, as well supportive services. The project was funded with low income tax credits and county loans.
Riverside County – Summer Energy Crisis Response Plan
Contact: Lois Carlson
Community Action Partnership
2038 Iowa Avenue, Suite B-102
Riverside, CA 92507
The summer in the desert areas of the county can see temperatures as high as 120 degrees, which can be life threatening to vulnerable populations like the elderly, disabled, infants and small children and low-income residents. The Summer Energy Crisis Response Plan was developed to respond to the impacts of extremely hot weather on residents. The plan has three key components. First, hot weather relief strategies include the availability of 22 cooling centers, the issuance of heat advisories and warnings and a toll-free number for information. Second, disaster preparation efforts include the distribution of generators as a back-up source of energy for low-income residents. And third, energy awareness and education efforts provide tips to consumers.
Riverside County – One Stop Assistance Center for Hurricane Evacuees
Contact: Mary Moreland
Office of Emergency Services
P.O. Box 1412
Riverside, CA 92502
Victims of Hurricane Katrina who made their way to Riverside County found care and assistance in a one-stop shop, the first such center opened in California. This center housed 25 agencies from every level of government, and ultimately assisted 1,700 evacuees and their families. At one place, the victims were able to get financial assistance, enroll their children in school, obtain personal identification, talk to mental health counselors, receive medical care, get vouchers for housing, and obtain clothing and personal hygiene items. The positive results were endless for those who entered the doors, initially so helpless, but leaving with a sense of dignity and security.
Sacramento County – Interim Care Program
Contact: Keith Andrews, M.D.
Primary Health Services
Department of Health and Human Services
7001 A. East Parkway, Ste.1000
Sacramento, CA 95823
Homeless patients who are hospitalized and discharged back to the homeless environment experience poor medical outcomes. They experience a lack of continuity of necessary ongoing medical treatment, resulting in repeat hospital admissions. It also results in increased hospital costs and less resources for more urgent cases. The Interim Care Program was developed to provide a safe place for homeless individuals to heal after discharge from local hospitals, and also provide needed home health care services. The county partnered with the Salvation Army for shelter to provide a suitable environment for these patients. The project involves a collaboration of governmental and community-based organizations. In its first year, the program provided services to 151 patients, with an average stay of 18 days.
San Diego County – Dorothy Street Learning Center
Contact: Cathy Trout Lichterman
Director, Department of Housing and Community Development
3989 Ruffin Road
San Diego, CA 92123
It is well documented that low-income persons have transportation challenges, but it is also known that access to computers and the Internet can help career advancement. With both those thoughts in mind, the Department of Housing and Community Development created an on-site learning center for residents of the county’s four public housing sites. A partnership between the county and non-profit community organization ACCESS Inc., the Dorothy Street Learning Center offers a 12-station computer laboratory, complete with all levels of computer instruction. The county paired funding for the facility and equipment with ACCESS’ contribution of staffing and administration. In just one recent month, the center instructed 95 individuals, opening doors to academic success and job opportunities.
San Diego County – Health Care Savings Program
Contact: Janice DiCroce, Ph.D.
Health and Human Services Agency
1255 Imperial Avenue, #732
San Diego, CA 92101
While 350,000 people in San Diego County either receive or are eligible for Medi-Cal, many aren’t aware that they are eligible for this program. That’s where the Medi-Cal Administrative Activities/Targeted Case Management (MAA/TCM) program comes in. The program specifically targets agencies and programs that provide health and support services to high-risk clients, including those at risk for poor health and social outcomes. Outreach to these agencies – such as school and hospital districts, transit agencies and community-based organizations – includes monthly meetings, workgroups and trainings. For fiscal year 2005 – 2006, the program will generate about $30 million, which will be passed along to these agencies, enhancing services to the county’s most vulnerable residents while costing only 1 percent of total revenue to administer the outreach program.
San Diego County – Mental Health S.H.A.R.I. Project
Contact: Kathryn Grant
Chief, Mental Health Clinical Services
1250 Morena Boulevard, 1st Floor
San Diego, CA 92110
A number of San Diego County mental health clients were being hospitalized every time they had a crisis. Frequent, unnecessary hospitalizations interfered with the clients’ ability to successfully live in a community setting and receive consistent outpatient care. The county worked with mental health providers, private psychiatrists and local hospitals to create the SHARI (Special Help for At-Risk Individuals) Project, steering clients back to community care while reducing unneeded hospital visits. A case manager encourages clients’ participation in the program and creates a personalized “clinician alert” plan, which is distributed to hospitals, crisis houses and other community partners. The plan routes clients to the county’s emergency psychiatric unit for fully coordinated care. This free program has reduced hospitalization costs by $355,558 to date.
Santa Barbara County – Community Partnership for Natural Resource Protection
Contact: Rachel Couch
Office of County Supervisor Susan Rose
105 East Anapamu Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93105
In 1999, no forum existed for productive dialogue between public- and private-sector natural resource protection experts. County Supervisor Susan Rose changed that when she formed the Natural Resources Advisory Committee. Using a community-government partnership model, the committee advises Supervisor Rose and county staff on county policies and practices using the best science available, promoting collaborative solutions to local natural resource protection problems. Staffed by the supervisor’s office and funded by administrative costs and grants, the group involves county department and community representatives, local scientists and professors, private-sector professionals in the planning process. Committee successes include a full inventory of county open spaces, a grant to acquire important floodplain habitat, a native plant nursery and two habitat restoration projects.
Santa Barbara County – My Story: The Drama Kings Speak Out
Contact: Patti Stewart
Deputy Chief Probation Officer (Institutions)
117 East Carrillo Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Probationers and camp wards are often the subject of negative stereotyping, hurting their chances to turn their lives around. Santa Barbara County sought to change these public stereotypes while increasing wards’ feelings of self-esteem and self-worth. With the help of a modest grant and the leadership of accomplished playwright Barbara Lebow, a theater development program was created at Los Prietos Boys Camp. Wards are able to explore their own life experiences as they develop dramatic productions, and licensed therapists ensure that psychological and emotional needs are addressed. An entirely ward-created play, My Story, focusing on the power of choice has been performed throughout the county, including school campuses. Through their participation, wards are discovering their talents, while also portraying a positive image to the community.
Santa Cruz County – Electronic Timecard System
Contact: Mary Jo Walker
701 Ocean Street, Room 100
Santa Cruz, CA 95018
Stuck with a 20-year-old paper-based payroll system, Santa Cruz County knew there just had to be a better way. The Auditor-Controller and Information Services Department decided to use internal programming staff to develop a Web-based time entry system that would interface with an existing computer application. Payroll supervisors and specialists took part in the process with programmer/analysts to create the system, which was then phased in throughout the county in 2005. The project’s modest budget stemmed primarily from staff time, but it was worth it. The system has cut back data entry time by thousands of hours, paper and records storage costs have been slashed, and errors have been reduced significantly. Overall, estimated savings total approximately $100,000 annually.