2007 Challenge Award Recipients
The 2007 Challenge Awards were the most popular in program history, with more than 260 entries received. This is just a sampling of the numerous innovative and creative solutions that California counties have developed to address a variety of needs and challenges.
This is the first year that entries were divided into four categories, based on a county’s population.
California Counties Innovation Award Recipients
Riverside County – A Health Plan Delivering Excellence
Contact: Ron Komers
Assistant County Executive Officer
Human Resources Department
P.O. Box 1569
Riverside, CA 92502-1569
With health care costs rising, it became apparent that more and more County employees had trouble affording comprehensive health coverage. County hospitals and clinic health care facilities were overwhelmed and not receiving adequate revenue for services, and commercial health plans routinely excluded the County hospital and clinics from network participation, denying employees access to use the County’s own facilities.
As a solution to this growing problem, the County developed a self-administered employee health plan called Exclusive Care, using the exemption provided under the Knox-Keene Act. This plan offers more affordable health coverage to regular County employees, as well as In-Home Supportive Services workers. Because the plan is self-administered, it was able to retain design and network flexibility, and quick responsiveness to merging costs and health care trends. Since the inception of Exclusive Care in 1999, it is estimated that that the County’s hospital, Riverside County Regional Medical Center, and the County Community Health Agency family health centers have received more than $11 million in revenue that they would not have otherwise seen. The premium savings have also benefited the individual employees participating in the plan. The Exclusive Care model has been so successful that the County has developed a new retiree plan to provide coverage to retirees at a lower cost as well; that plan will be offered starting in January 2008.
Santa Clara County – Emancipated Foster Youth Employment Program
Contact: Joanne Cox,
Human Resources Director
70 W. Hedding Street, 8th Floor
San Jose, CA 95110
This program provides entry-level job opportunities to untrained,
economically disadvantaged emancipated foster youth who are
transitioning out of the system. Between 130 and 150 youth “age
out” of foster care in the county each year, at age 18. These
youth often have no safety net, are unemployed or become
unemployed, or fall into the hidden homeless population. Studies
and regional evidence have also shown that a significant number
of these young adults end up in expensive systems of care, such
as jail and welfare.
Prior to the development of the Emancipated Foster Youth Employment Program, the county had limited job opportunities for qualified emancipated foster youth, and the existing job opportunities were only available within the Social Services Agency. In early 2006, three county departments came together to develop a pilot employment program for youth to receive training for temporary, paid assignments. Training included interviewing tips and assistance in completing job applications, followed immediately by interviews for initial job assignments. The program has now been expanded to include more than 500 alternately staffed entry- level positions. To date, 30 emancipated foster youth have been hired into temporary positions and 10 have been hired into permanent positions with the county. Additionally, legislation has been introduced by Assembly Member Jim Beall, Jr. (AB 671) that would create a similar Program at the State level.
Tulare County – Youth Transitions Programs
Contact: Christina Jones
TulareWORKs Staff Services Analyst
Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency
5957 S. Mooney Blvd.
Visalia, CA 93277
Phone: 559/737-4660, ext. 2156
The Tulare County Youth Transitions Program was established to private at-risk youth with an opportunity for real work experience and a career path leading to self-sufficiency and lifelong success. Each year, approximately 250 youth in Tulare County reach the age of 18 and emancipate from the foster care system. Many of these young adults find themselves on their own, with little or no support from the community. The program provides jobs for selected youths with Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency – a match that benefits both the youth and an agency that traditionally had difficulty keeping all of its positions filled. After completing a series of preparatory workshops, the selected youths submit applications and interview for available positions at TulareWORKs locations. Each participant is provided an assigned mentor, opportunities for training and preparation for various civil service examinations. Through participation in this program, young people are finding a confidence and independence they have not previously known. In addition, the salaries paid to them have provided needed income and positioned them on the road to becoming self-sufficient. Since hiring began for the program in October 2006, a total of 43 young adults have participated in the program, with 34 of them still employed with TulareWORKs.
Challenge Award Recipients
Population: Under 50,000
Trinity County – Community Partnerships: Saving a Rural Hospital
Contact: Jeff Morris
Trinity County Supervisor
PO Box 1613
Weaverville, CA 96093
Trinity Hospital, a county-owned facility, transitioned into a district hospital through an innovative partnership formed by the county government and local electric utility. Trinity Hospital, like many rural county-owned hospitals, was facing a fiscal crisis. In response, the County approached the local utility district for assistance. The utility district advanced the County funds to keep the hospital afloat and a joint powers authority was developed between the two agencies to run the facility. Furthermore, a successful election was held that created a healthcare district and tax measure to fund the hospital. A citizens committee called “Trinity Cares” played an integral role in the formation of the healthcare district and passages of the tax measure. Trinity County now has a hospital as part of an independent healthcare district that will continue to save an average of one life per week through its emergency room, as well as providing much-needed daily care to its citizens. In a county that has never passed a countywide tax measure, it is remarkable that this measure was passed with 70 percent of the vote. This has also created a more positive relationship between Trinity County and the local utility district. Working together, the community was able to keep its hospital open and make a difference by saving lives.
Population: 50,000 to 200,000
San Benito County – With a Little Help From Our Friends
Contact: Kathryn Flores
Health and Human Services
1111 San Felipe Road
Hollister, CA 95023
San Benito County partnered with the Union 4-H Club to raise mosquitofish to distribute to county residents as part of its West Nile Virus Program. For the past several years, mosquito abatement has become a public healthy priority. Mosquitofish are small, minnow-like fish that rapidly consume mosquito larvae in ponds, fountains and horse troughs. Yet the effective distribution of mosquitofish was difficult with only two part-time employees and a very small budget. This precluded the implementation of a mosquitofish breeding and distribution operation. The Union 4-H Club approached the County with a proposal to raise and distribute mosquitofish to residents free of charge. In previous years, residents had to drive more than 60 miles to obtain mosquitofish from a neighboring mosquito abatement district. This project new provides a local means for residents to obtain mosquitofish at both the Downtown Farmer’s Market and from the 4-H leader’s own residence. Had the county undertaken this project alone it would have cost $10,000; with the Union 4-H Club costs totaled approximately $200. Since 2006 mosquitofish have been distributed to 525 residents and no human cases of West Nile Virus have been found in San Benito County.
Tuolumne County – Library Tech-Know Rodeo
Contact: Constance J. Corcoran
Director of Library Services
480 Greenley Road
Sonora, CA 95370
Since libraries have abandoned cart catalogs in favor of computerized systems, even long-time users can be at a loss about services as basic as how to find books. Furthermore, the library’s Web site contains information and helpful links – all too valuable to be missed. To help older residents use its new information technologies, the County Library presented “Tech-Know Rodeo,” an all-day exposition that included demonstrations, prizes, food and fun. Library staff and local educators planned the event to feature new library services and basic computer literacy, aimed at people over 40 years old. A rodeo theme was chosen in keeping with the major springtime event in the county and to encourage a fun-filled spirit that would overcome the intimidation many feel about computers. The main event encouraged people to “ride the library Web site” to find books and place requests from home. The local community college, county schools and database vendors demonstrated homework help resources, safe Web sites for children, classes for learning software applications and local human services. More than 200 people attended the event, and 100 percent of those surveyed said the rodeo was useful to them. Use of the library’s Web-based catalog to place requests increased 27 percent the next month.
Population: 200,001 to 700,000
Solano County – BabyFirst Solano Improves Prenatal Care
Contact: Jayleen Richards,
Health Services Manager
275 Beck Avenue, MS 5-240
Fairfield, CA 94533
Through a public and private partnership, BabyFirst Solano creates a system of care that educates and empowers pregnant and parenting women to deliver healthy, drug-free babies. The county’s challenge was that prenatal and perinatal indicators fell short of national goals, and many newborns had been exposed to alcohol, tobacco or other drugs during pregnancy. These children are at an increased risk of poor health outcomes, chronic health problems, developmental delays and learning disabilities. BabyFirst Solano’s partnership identifies and addresses barriers to care, streamlines services and coordinates activities. Multi-agency teams of health professionals and outreach workers provide comprehensive services, including linkage to medical insurance and prenatal care, case management and care coordination, home visiting, health and parenting education and substance abuse services. The project is funded through First 5 Solano Children and Families Commission and federal matching funds under Title V. The program has completed each year under budget. Some outcomes are: 89 percent of newborns were born at optimal weight and gestational age; 64 percent of clients entered first trimester prenatal care; the county’s teen preterm birth rate is significantly less (7.4 percent) than the rate in California (10.9 percent) and the U.S. (13.2 percent); and about 71 percent of clients receiving substance use services were substance-free by the third trimester.
Sonoma County – Economic Assistance Service Center
Contact: Marion Deeds
Division Director Economic Assistance
P.O. Box 1539
Santa Rosa, C 95402
Caseloads for Food Stamps and Medi-Cal processed by the Human Services Department increased rapidly from 2000-2005, resulting in poor services for clients and an overwhelmed staff. Funding did not keep pace with caseload growth, and eligibility workers were handling an average of 645 cases each. The Economic Assistance Service Center was launched in March 2007. It includes an upgraded phone system and a computer application that allows a caseworker to view imaged documentation anywhere in the agency. Rather than having specific cases assigned to specific workers, the service center pools all clients so anyone answering the phone can assist any client. A tracking tool allows the county to monitor the casework, track unfinished work and balance workloads. This new service center will save the county an estimated $4.4 million over five years, compared to the staffing levels required to meet the increasing caseload under the old structure. Customers calling the toll-free number are now connected within about 20 seconds with a skilled worker who has access to any information needed in order to take immediate action for the client. The service center is serving more than 50,000 Medi-Cal, Food Stamp and County Medical Services Program clients monthly.
Population: 700,001 and Above
Los Angeles County – Solid Waste Information Management System
Contact: William Reoch, Systems Development Specialist
Department of Public Works
900 South Fremont Avenue
Alhambra, CA 91803
County residents produce about 12 million tons of trash each year, and Public Works is required to track that waste to determine their recycling rate for reporting to the California Integrated Waste Management Board. The Solid Waste Information Management System is a Web-enabled application that tracks and reports how much waste each community in Los Angeles County produces. Previously, Public Works created these reports manually in hardcopy. Instead of two full-time civil engineering assistants, one administrative assistant now generates the reports. The new system standardizes the reports, eliminates data entry errors and streamlines the compiling and reporting process, resulting in annual cost savings of $580,000. Any user, including the public, can access solid waste disposal information and download a variety of reports. All landfills, solid waste transfer stations, waste-to-energy facilities, materials recovery facilities and waste haulers can send their information through this application. Users can log in 24 hours a day, create customized reports, upload figures and make changes using minimal county staff resources. Access to this information is crucial for planning County solid waste management programs. Customized reports facilitate trends analysis, enabling the County, cities and other agencies to more effectively plan solid waste disposal and safeguard public health and the environment.
Orange County – New Leash on Life
Contact: Vicki Mathews, Manager
Legislative and Public Affairs
1535 E. Orangewood Ave.
Anaheim, CA 92805
Phone: (not provided)
In an effort to increase social skills, self esteem and responsibility in the female population at Juvenile Hall, the “New Leash on Life” program was created to bring puppies from the Orange County Animal Shelter for the girls to care for. Program goals include enjoying the experience of unconditional love the puppies provide; and to teach the girls skills and abilities needed to care for the puppies. These skills and attributes assist the girls in their own growth and development. The program enlists the help of the girls in the 60-bed, female detention unit at Juvenile Hall to provide foster care to puppies too young to stay at the shelter. The program is a joint effort between the Probation Department’s Juvenile Hall and the County’s Animal Shelter, resulting in savings for the shelter as well as positively impacting the behavior of the girls. Physical altercations between the girls decrease when the puppies are being fostered in the unit. At times, the most challenging girls become easier to work with when they become “Puppy Moms.” This program not only promotes a positive influence on the young girls who are often lacking positive life lessons, but also provides love and affection to small, vulnerable puppies.
Riverside County – Silverhawk Park and Trail System
Contact: Suzanne Holland
Deputy Director, Community Services Division
Economic Development Agency
P.O. Box 1180
Riverside, CA 92502
The Silverhawk Park and Trail System is a set of community parks
and recreational trails built into a network of utility access
easements within the unincorporated community of Silverhawk. Home
development in the area required a system of access roads to
service overhead utility poles and underground gas pipelines.
Unfortunately, these utility access roads had become havens for
trespassing, illegal off-highway motorized vehicle use and
illegal dumping. To combat the problem, a local County
Service Area developed trail/park scenarios that were presented
to local utility companies and homebuilders for consideration.
Pulte Home, a national homebuilder, agreed that the Silverhawk
Park and Trail System was necessary, both to increase the
attractiveness of the surrounding area and provide an additional
selling point to future residents seeking outdoor recreational
Since completion of the project, the county has seen a dramatic decrease in illegal dumping and graffiti in the community. The park and trail system has also proved to be a heavily used public recreational amenity for area residents. As a result of the public/private cooperative team effort behind the project, minimal public funds were used for construction of the trail and park landscaping. The project has also reduced the amount the county previously spent to clean up graffiti and illegal trash dumping.
Sacramento, Colusa, El Dorado, Placer & Yuba Counties – Healthy Kids, Healthy Future Regional Health Initiative
Contact: Bonnie Ferreira
1321 Garden Hwy., Suite 200
Sacramento, CA 95833
Healthy Kids, Healthy Future Regional Health Initiative is the first and only non-profit regional children’s health initiative in the state. The program’s mission is to ensure every child in the Sierra, Sacramento Valley region (Colusa, El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento and Yuba Counties) will have access to comprehensive, affordable and continuous health coverage that is culturally and linguistically appropriate. Its key strategies are to cultivate new public-private partnerships for children’s coverage, bringing together public and private entities to share in the responsibility of coverage for all kids. It creates a new and comprehensive regional insurance program called Healthy Kids, which mirrors the state’s Healthy Families benefit plan. Healthy Kids, Healthy Future was established to contract with the health plans, operate as the official fund holder for Healthy Kids premiums, maintain the Web-based enrollment system, raise funds, manage grants and evaluate the regional model. The initiative’s annual budget is $3.2 million with more than 90 percent of funds used for premium subsidies. This initiative has maximized appropriate utilization of preventive and primary care services, and increased provider capacity to provide accessible health services to children throughout the region. Having insurance for these children will have a positive impact on their lives, as well as on the social and economic well being of the region.
Merit Award Recipients
Population: Under 50,000
Glenn County — Transition Age Youth Peer Mentors
Contact: Scott Gruendl, Director
Health Services Agency
242 North Villa Avenue
Willows, CA 95988
Challenged to engage at-risk Transition Age Youth (TAY) in a meaningful way, Glenn County Health Services implemented a peer mentoring program. This age group often drops out of the mental health system (and through society’s cracks) because they feel it is not relevant to their needs. The County created a youth leadership module of Peer Mentors. These emissaries develop connections with all mental health staff and department partners and act as consultants on youth culture, TAY programming and services in all capacities. Since 2005, 15 Peer Mentors have been hired, empowered and given the tools to connect with and mentor other youth. They develop and lead youth groups and events and in so doing, model positive images of successful transition into adulthood
Glenn County — Healthy Housing Assessment Tool
Scott Gruendl, Director
Health Services Agency
242 North Villa Avenue
Willows, CA 95988
The Public Health Department was concerned with influencing land use decisions based on their impact on public health. The Healthy Housing Assessment Tool was developed to involve public health staff and County citizens in land use decisions, especially in accelerated growth areas. The self-guided tools helps determine the “healthiness” of proposed development projects. The project provided training on how to use the assessment tool and a public education campaign to promote it to citizens. The project has been successful on two levels: Internally at the Public Health Department staff became more knowledgeable about the land use development process and how public health can play a greater role. And, more importantly, the tool provides citizens a means to provide constructive feedback during land use project approvals.
Siskiyou County — Leave No Junker Behind
Contact: Pat Matthews, Code Enforcement Officer
P.O. Box 1085
Yreka, CA 96097
Over the last 35 years, junk and debris has accumulated in the Salmon River Watershed, including old appliances, storage tanks, discarded mining equipment, abandoned vehicles and old tires. The county teamed up with the National Forest Service, Karuk Tribe, Salmon River Restoration Council and private citizens to remove this eyesore marring an otherwise pristine, mountainous region. After an inventory of debris locations was taken, three collection/drop-off spots were identified and the Karuk Tribe and private citizens donated time, equipment and money toward the collection effort. The county brought in recyclers the finish the job. The result: 332 vehicles, 376 tons of scrap material and 3,000 old tires, totaling 663 tons of junk, were collected. Costs were covered through donations and a federal grant.
Population: 50,000 to 200,000
El Dorado County — The Elder Protection Unit
Contact: Laura S. Gill
Chief Administrative Officer
330 Fair Lane
Placerville, CA 95667
El Dorado County’s senior population is growing at more than twice the State average. Here, as elsewhere, elder abuse is a growing but largely underreported problem. Staff from Human Services, the District Attorney’s office and County Counsel formed the County’s Elder Protection Unit (EPU). The program safeguards seniors from abuse, neglect and exploitation and vigorously prosecutes those who harm them. Since its inception in February 2006, EPU has conducted 400 abuse/neglect investigations, referring 120 of them for civil or criminal litigation. Community group presentations, scam alerts and a monthly senior newsletter reaching thousands of households have led to a 188 percent increase in elder crime cases filed with the DA. The message is clear: El Dorado County will not tolerate crimes against its senior citizens.
Lake County — Non-Recycling Surcharge Saves Landfill Space and Money
Contact: Caroline Chavez
Public Services Department
333 Second Street
Lakeport, CA 95453
The County’s Eastlake Landfill was reaching capacity much faster than expected. Despite no-cost and low-cost recycling programs, the County’s diversion rate for recyclables was stuck at 34%. The Public Services Department proposed and implemented a non-recycling surcharge, which effectively doubled disposal costs for non-recycling customers. At first, only about 50 percent of customers took advantage of the drop-off bins at the landfill, preferring to pay the surcharge. Staff helped customers organized their loads to make it easier to separate out recyclables. The most recent quarter saw an 88 percent reduction in number of customers surcharged vs. during the first three months of the program. The non-recycling surcharge continues to contribute to extending the landfill’s capacity, increasing diversion, and saving money for customers — without increasing operational costs.
Nevada County — NCTeen.com
Contact: Dave Bloch, Webmaster
Information & General Services
950 Maidu Ave.
Nevada City, CA 95959
www.NCTeen.com is a youth-oriented, teen-designed Web site that provides information on health and life-related issues. The goal was to create a Web site that offered information about drugs and alcohol, especially methamphetamine. The production team decided to include information on other topics of interest for teens to attract teen viewers. There was no budget for the project; county staff worked on it within the available time of their respective jobs and the students volunteered their time. The page has more than 29,000 page views, including 2,300 views on the “Drug & Alcohol” section. NCTeen.com is a recognized resource in the overall fight against drug abuse in the county.
Sutter County — Family Intervention Team: Threat Assessment Protocol
Contact: Christine D. Odom
Chief Probation Officer
PO Box 1555
Yuba City, CA 95901
The Sutter County Family Intervention Team developed a threat assessment protocol to provide coordinated, consistent intervention by member agencies when a threat of violence occurs. A protocol was devised that would be used by law enforcement, schools, probation and mental health practitioners to identify responsibilities and procedures for each member agency in responding to a credible threat. Each agency created a protocol addressing responses for their individual agency and the Sutter-Yuba Mental Health Services provided a “Risk Assessment Worksheet for Violent Behavior” to be used by mental health staff in carrying out the actual assessment. The protocol has successfully encouraged open communication among member agencies about potentially high-risk cases to effect intervention at the earliest possible opportunity.
Tuolumne County — Probation Victim Impact Program
Contact: Shirlee Juhl
Chief Probation Officer
465 S. Washington St.
Sonora, CA 95370
The Victim Impact Program (VIP) assists juvenile offenders to understand the impact of crime on victims while helping offenders accept responsibility for their own delinquent acts. The County Probation Department has created a curriculum for juvenile offenders based on crime-victim impact. Over the course of eight weeks, a different subject on crime is presented. Topics include property crime, domestic violence, sexual assault, violent crime, drug and alcohol abuse, and driving under the influence. The program includes presenters, games and activities, victim speakers, videos, role play and props to assist the juveniles to develop empathy and understanding. The program is now being ordered by the Juvenile Court as a condition of probation.
Yolo County — Triad Task Force
Contact: Beth Gabor
Public Information Officer
625 Court St., Room 202
Woodland, CA 95696
Triad Task Force is the action arm of the County’s Commission on Aging & Adult Services; it was created to coordinate assistance to the disadvantaged elderly. Created in 2005, the local Task Force is modeled on a national alliance and is a collaborative effort among multiple county departments and outside agencies. Triad’s mission is to “improve the quality of life for seniors and disabled adults â€¦ by involving them in efforts to provide: education and shared information; enhanced coordination between local agencies and emergency service providers; and legislative advocacy.” All programs implemented by Triad are financed through fundraising. In the two years since Triad’s inception, numerous projects have been implemented.
Population 200,001 to 700,000
Merced County — Methamphetamine Prevention Video
Contact: Mark Pazin, Merced County Sheriff
c/o Mark Hendrickson
2222 M Street
Merced, CA 95340
The Merced County Sheriff’s Department received a grant from the federal government and partnered with the private sector to produce a video and a fotonovela (pocket-sized picture book) in both English and Spanish targeted toward youth, which depicts a tragic meth story. These materials are directed toward the Hispanic communities, which are being targeted by the Mexican drug trafficking organizations. There was no direct cost to the County for the production of these materials. Since the movie and printed materials’ inception, the Sheriff’s Department has reported a significant drop in the number of meth-lab related incidences, and clean up costs related to labs has also decreased significantly.
Santa Barbara County — Unplanned Pregnancies Educational Video
Contact: Carrie Topliffe, Director
Department of Child Support Services
4 East Carrillo Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
More than 2,000 County residents under the age of 21 are parents of children receiving services from the Department of Child Support Services. This need for assistance suggests many were not ready for parenthood and struggle to maintain a stable family unit. Unplanned pregnancies are not only women’s problems as DNA testing and child support laws have forced young men to be involved as well. Capitalizing on this era of equal responsibility, the department created a hip-hop influenced music video as a public service announcement to introduce the concept of parental financial responsibility to a young audience. The video has aired on a variety of local television stations.
Solano County — First Five Leverages Millions for Local Services
Contact: Christina Arrostuto, Executive Director
First Five Solano Children and Families Commission
2300 Boynton Avenue, Suite 204
Fairfield, CA 94533
First Five Solano provides services for children age 0-5 and their families, and has had a chronic shortage of funds to support their myriad of needs. As part of First 5’s effort to approach this challenge, it expanded the capacity of its service providers to gain grant investment opportunities. As a result, many local grantees now leverage First Five funding as a source of matching dollars for local, state, federal and foundation funds. First Five local agencies reported more than $4 million in additional accessed funds using this approach, which brought about tangible results such as a low teen birth rate (7.4 percent) and a very low rate of uninsured children (3 percent).
Solano County — Integration of Behavioral Health and Primary Care
Contact: Michael McGlathery, PhD, Behavioral Health
Health and Social Services
275 Beck Avenue, MS 5-250
Fairfield, CA 94533
Integrated services ensure physicians provide easy access to mental health services and have the necessary support to identify and manage behavioral health conditions affecting their primary care clients. The county had found two problems in its mental health delivery: (1) Low-income Hispanic and Filipino community members were not receiving services in proportion to their population and (2) primary care physicians were reporting a growing need for clients requiring mental health intervention, treatment and referral. This project placed mental health clinicians into county-operated primary care clinics to provide treatment and intervention to clients, as well training to the physician medical teams. Results included about 2,000 clients served with intervention at two sites and improved access for the Hispanic and Filipino population.
Solano County — Middle School Anti-Methamphetamine Presentations
Contact: Jeffrey E. Thoma
675 Texas Street, Suite 3500
Fairfield, CA 94533
No other drug is as addictive as methamphetamine, and it is a drug readily accessible to school-aged children. The Board of Supervisors recognized that it needed to address drug abuse among children as a top priority, and challenged its executive management team to come up with solutions. The result was individual classroom presentations at the county’s middle schools about the dangers of methamphetamine abuse. The presentations have been well received and each school visited has asked to continue the program in the future. The county’s relationships with the schools has improved. Local anti-drug coalitions have actively sponsored the county’s outreach program.
Sonoma County — “Step Wise” – A Senior Falls Prevention Program
Contact: Diane Kaljian
Division Director, Adult & Aging
PO Box 4059
Santa Rosa, CA 95402
Falls are the primary reason that seniors are sent to the hospital, often resulting in loss of independence, decreased quality of life or loss of life. In order to address the number of falls sustained by seniors, the Adult and Aging Division solicited funds from the local coalition of hospitals to create a plan to identify strategies to reduce falls by seniors. The result was two programs offered countywide: “Safe Steps” and “A Matter of Balance.” The former presents information on how to create a safe home environment, how to find activities to increase strength and balance, and how to track medicines to ensure inappropriate use does not cause falls. The latter addresses and supports those who are living in fear of falling.
Population: 700,001 and Above
Alameda County — Booklegger Program
Contact: Gail Orwig
Fremont Main Library
2400 Stevenson Blvd.
Fremont, CA 94538
The Booklegger Program is an innovative and successful program that employs community volunteers to serve as ambassadors of literacy, encouraging K-8 students (especially reluctant readers) to experience the joy of books. Bookleggers has been successful in Fremont since 1984 and is slated to be replicated in Dublin and San Lorenzo this year. There are currently 900 selected titles on the Booklegger Cumulative list. To date, 200 trained volunteers have visited 14,000 classrooms and 350,000 students. For the 2006-2007 school year, 3,000 volunteer hours were recorded, by 25 Bookleggers visiting 600 classrooms. Books presented by Bookleggers are checked out three times more frequently. Students come to the library with their booklists, excited to read the titles they learned about at school.
Alameda County — Restitution Unit
Contact: Ken Ryken, Deputy District Attorney
Office of the District Attorney
1225 Fallon St., Room 900
Oakland, CA 94612
In 1998, Alameda County was selected to participate in a pilot project to enhance the collection of constitutionally mandated crime victim restitution. The project consists of a supervising deputy district attorney, two paralegals and two data managers known as “restitution specialists.” Between 2001 and 2006, the unit obtained 5,133 restitution orders totaling more than $34 million. This averages to 1,000 orders per year or five per day. Alameda was the first California county to establish a dedicated court calendar for the purpose of collecting restitution. The unit also wrote a new program for its district attorney case management system . Both the Restitution Court model and data capture systems have been replicated in several other counties and the unit conducts restitution training for district attorney personnel throughout the State.
Kern County — The East and West Kern Mobile Brief Service Teams
Contact: Diane Koditek
Kern County Mental Health Department
PO Box 1000
Bakersfield, CA 93302
Funded by the Mental Health Services Act, Kern County developed an innovative way to deliver mental health services. While still very new, the County’s two mobile brief service teams have been able to effectively address the cultural diversity of this large County. The bilingual West Kern team works primarily with Latino communities. The East Kern team serves isolated areas where mental health services are very limited, working with a large number of veterans. Both teams are positively impacting the populations they serve by tailoring their interventions to the cultures and needs of the residents. They are helping to ensure that high-cost (in both human and financial terms) problems like homelessness, domestic violence, child abuse and substance abuse
Los Angeles County — Vandalism Reduction Program
Contact: Lt. Rick Craigo
One Gateway Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Phone: 213/922-3560 ext. 23585
The Transit Services Bureau was experiencing a graffiti plague on its transit vehicles. Graffiti damage cost $12 million a year. Another unfortunate result was a public perception that the metro transit system was unsafe. In December 2000, the Bureau implemented a highly effective Vandalism Reduction Program led by the special problems unit. In 2006, teams arrested 156 “taggers” and solved 770 vandalism cases worth more than $1 in damage to metro property. Several taggers were ordered to pay restitution and court costs in excess of $25,000 per person. Savings to Metro Transit increased to more than $7 million per year for clean up and repair of buses and rail lines. A recent survey reported 88% of transit patrons now felt safe on metro systems.
Los Angeles County — Public Works Women’s Council
Contact: Ghayane Zakarian
County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works
900 South Fremont Ave.
Alhambra, CA 91803
The Public Works Women’s Council was formed in July 2004 to address obstacles faced by women in all classifications and ensure that there is no glass ceiling to women’s advancement. The council’s task was to identify and recommend solutions to obstacles that prevent women’s growth, advancement and empowerment in a historically male-dominated department. Five separate committees (steering, membership, mentoring, communications, and field liaison and support) were established. Membership in the council is open to both men and women and has grown from 14 to 40+. Activities include retreats, interest surveys, development of mission and vision statements and regular brown bag lunches. The council has made great strides toward creating an environment in which women, and ultimately all employees, can contribute to the success of the Department are reduced.
Riverside County — Family Preservation Court Program
Contact: Lisa A. Sayles
Sr. Administrative Analyst
10281 Kidd St.
Riverside, CA 92503
Riverside County’s Family Preservation Court is a comprehensive 12-month supervised drug treatment and education program designed to address the high rates of illicit drug use, especially methamphetamine, and the occurrence of child abuse and neglect as a result of parental substance abuse. The Department of Public Social Services Children’s Services Division and the local courts partnered to give families access to an intensified court-supervised substance abuse recovery program. Formerly called “Drug Court,” this program provides a family-centered approach to substance abuse and child abuse/neglect issues, including drug testing, counseling, parenting courses and appearances before a judicial officer. The program has proven highly successful: to date less than 2% of children reunified to Family Preservation Court graduates have re-entered the system.
Sacramento County — California Capital Airshow
Contact: Cheryl Marcell, Deputy Director
Sacramento County Airport System
6900 Airport Blvd.
Sacramento, CA 95837
The inaugural California Capital Airshow was presented to more than 100,000 people in order to create a positive impression of the County Airports, provide scholarships to local students interested in future careers in aviation or aerospace engineering, provide a source of revenue to local community organizations, and create an event that the community can own and support. All of these goals were achieved through the positive media attention brought to Mather Airport. The event totaled more than $365,000 worth of earned media, scholarships for 16 students, and 30 different community groups earned more than $50,000 that will allow them to continue to sponsor this and other community events in the future.
San Diego County — Intergenerational Games
Contact: Ellen Schmeding
Assistant Deputy Director
Aging and Independence Services
9335 Hazard Way, Ste. 100
San Diego, CA 92123
The Intergenerational Games were created to address health and social issues in the county, namely the alarming rate of overweight youth and the high rate of seniors diagnosed with diabetes and heart disease. The games paira youth and senior mentors in physically challenging fitness activities, like tennis, and also in activities encouraging good nutrition. The games promote volunteerism and intergenerational relationships. More than 2,000 have participated in nine Intergenerational Games throughout the county. Funding is from community organizations, business sponsorships, donations, grants and the county.
San Diego County — Tutor Connection
Contact: Patty Kay Danon
Assistant Deputy Director
6950 Levant St.
San Diego, CA 92111
The Tutor Connection provides free, high quality tutoring services to current and former foster youth between the ages of 5 and 21. The program is a partnership between county Child Welfare Services; county Office of Education, Foster Youth Services; California State University, San Marcos, College of Education; and Casey Family Programs. The tutors are student teachers enrolled in the university’s College of Education, who go through additional training on child welfare issues. Youth and tutors work together for three hours per week for 12 weeks at home or in the community. Tutors fulfill a prerequisite requirement for entrance into the college’s teacher credential program. To date, the Tutor Connection has educated more than 1,100 future teachers and offered services to approximately 1,500 students in foster care.
Ventura County — Wetland Project Permitting Guide
Contact: Chris Stephens
Resource Management Agency
800 S. Victoria Ave.
Ventura, CA 93009
The County’s Resource Management Agency, through its Planning Division, realized that meeting existing wetland permitting requirements and protecting wetland resources could not be accomplished until all parties involved had a clear understanding of those permitting requirements. The Wetland Project Permitting Guide successfully presents technical and complex permitting information in a simple, illustrative and easy to understand format. The guide presents, in a concise manner with excellent samples and graphics, the complex and wide-ranging regulations to be followed for any project that might alter streams and wetlands. The publication helps property owners and organizations involved in stream and wetland restoration improve their understanding of the regulatory environment. The guide can be used as a template for other counties.