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June 2013

Meeting the Challenge: Sacramento County’s Human Assistance Medi-Cal/CalFresh Service Center

When people say that government agencies should be run more like a business, I suspect what they really mean is that government should use more efficient processes that result in better customer service. That’s what Sacramento County is now offering through a change of technology and process in their Cal-Fresh Service Center.

Under the old “case based” model, when someone applied for Cal-Fresh benefits, they were assigned to a case-worker who was in charge of that file. When you had questions, needed to make some changes or had any other reason to contact the program, you had to talk to your case-worker. That model worked because that one person gets to know his or her cases over time, but with growing case loads and limited budgets, the old way became unwieldy and inflexible.

Meeting the Challenge: Riverside County’s Use of Inmate Labor

Riverside County covers more than 7,000 square miles, and includes some of the most sparsely populated landscape in the state. Keeping a county that big clean isn’t always easy, but Riverside County has a long-running jail inmate work program to pick up trash and maintain the landfills. It helps keep the roadsides clean and the inmates get some much-needed activity. But a few years ago, Riverside County, like many in the state and across the country, found itself in a very tight budget situation. Money for minor construction and other small projects at the landfills had to be redirected to other priorities — and many of those projects were languishing. That’s when county leaders realized they might just have an untapped asset. What if you could expand the inmate program to include some of these other activities, as well as the typical trash clean up?

Monday Morning Quarterbacking the CPRA Debate

There is a great deal of angst among the press regarding a provision in AB 76, a budget trailer bill that establishes certain procedural activities associated with the California Public Records Act (CPRA) as “best practices” and require a local agency that determines that it will not follow these practices to make a public announcement [...]

Meeting the Challenge: San Diego County’s Justice Electronic Library System

Imagine a stack of paper 40 stories high. That’s how much paper the San Diego County juvenile justice system was using each year related to court cases. Enter the Justice Electronic Library System (JELS), a collaborative effort of the county’s juvenile justice agencies, technology office and its outsourcing provider Hewlett Packard. The end result is a state-of-the-art system that saves money, time and resources while improving the juvenile justice system.

Meeting the Challenge: San Joaquin County’s Measure and Mix — A Mental Health Recipe

Mental illness! For some reason, we are perfectly happy discussing other chronic problems, from diabetes to the heartbreak of psoriasis, but mental illness? Let’s not talk about that right now. And because we don’t want to talk about it many people who suffer from it suffer alone. Mental illness can manifest itself in behavior that is unpleasant at best so many people who have it are estranged from their families and friends. They often rely on county mental health services for help.

In San Joaquin County, they have developed a new model for providing that help, a new way of treating some people with mental illness and supporting them as they get treatment. In the past, the County operated a large locked-down mental health facility.