US News & World Report recently released a listing of “America’s 50 Healthiest Counties for Kids 2014-15” and it was good news for California counties. In fact, of the top 50 counties, 13 are from California; even more impressive is that Marin County ranks as No. 1! We see rankings on everything imaginable so why [...]
“One barrier you need to take off the table is “well, we don’t have money to do it.” It doesn’t take any money to sit down at a table and talk with people. That’s a freebie, with a huge payoff.” With those words, Nevada County Health Director Michael Heggarty sums up their approach to providing a system of care for kids, teens, and their families. They have broken down silos, ignored the barriers and are working across several different organizations to provide a network of services that starts with mental health, but has grown into much, much more.
To be honest, it started with a cluster of teen suicides in Nevada County—tragedies that while not statistically out of the norm, hit very close together and very close to home. They made people realize they needed to do more to reach out to kids and their families. And so even as funding for collaboration dried up, they collaborated. There is a monthly meeting that includes the leaders of the County Health Department, the Superintendent of Schools, the Courts, Probation, Child Welfare and others agencies that have contact with kids and their families. That trickles down to weekly meetings among other staffers.
The program is designed to let mothers who are going through alcohol and substance abuse treatment live with their children in a safe and supportive environment. Keeping these families together is usually far better for the children, and the prospect of keeping their kids often provides moms with the extra incentive they need to complete the program successfully. It saves money for the County because the alternative is often foster care for the kids and incarceration for the moms.
Clean and Sober living was originally run by a faith-based non-profit organization and funded partially by Stanislaus County. The local dollars allowed the program to get federal grants that made up most of its budget. But in 2008, 2009 and 2010 the recession forced Stanislaus County, and many other local governments, to make some difficult decisions. They had to cut sheriff’s deputies, firefighters and other necessities, and eventually, they had to eliminate funding for Clean and Sober Living too.
It’s “Thankful November” (#thankfulnovember) season on social media. The notion is to take time during this season of Thanksgiving to reflect on the various blessings in one’s life. At the Institute for Local Government, we are thankful for our local democratic institutions, through which communities pool resources and energies to provide necessary services and facilities [...]
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.