Dr. Holly Child, Director of Outcomes and Measurement
Santa Clara County
December 14, 2020
Please describe your role with Santa Clara County:
My role falls within the Probation Research and Development (RaD) Unit. The role of the RaD Team is to develop and implement applied research and evaluation projects that provide data to help inform policy, practice and programming. There are over 125 projects currently that involve anything from program evaluation, policy analysis, tool validation, developing fidelity tools, designing quality improvement methodologies, designing and tracking performance metrics, supporting contract monitoring, and program fidelity. The RaD Unit also serves as liaisons for research, program, and community assessment activities with other County departments, public and private agencies, and community groups and organizations.
What motivated you to enter public service?
To be honest, I avoided government work for a long time. I have experience as a Chair of a Criminal Justice department and researcher but never saw myself as a public servant. It was not until I met our Chief Laura Garnette and realized how much she values data driven-decision making and a real passion for helping our clients that developed my interest. Now I am embedded in the Probation Department and I truly believe my work is more impactful from the inside of the organization.
What’s your favorite movie of all time?
Star Wars. Hands down. This movie not only has action, drama, comedy and romance but also talks about making hard choices and keeping hope alive. The way people overcome adversity and triumph over challenges is inspiring. I also feel that many of us can see ourselves reflected in the feelings and actions of the characters.
What’s the most interesting or fulfilling part of your job?
The work my team does is always new and interesting. We often encounter challenges that have no existing solutions and we get to create ways to study and provide ideas for solutions. I also work with a team of diverse and smart staff who have worked in child welfare, national juvenile justice policy, victims services, research organizations and public health. We learn so much from each other and how our aggregate knowledge can help improve outcomes.
What are you currently reading?
With the pending closure of the state’s Department of Juvenile Justice Facilities, I have been reading a lot of research about effective interventions for high-need youth and successful re-entry for youth back into their home communities. I also have been reading personal blogs with people who have shared their life experiences related to re-entry and what they have learned through their personal journeys and are selfless enough to share so that others can learn.
In my personal life, I have been reading Untamed by Glennon Doyle. I find the messages about helping people who feel/are vulnerable or marginalized find space for their voice and identity so empowering and needed.