“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 state’s 2011 shift of criminal justice responsibility to counties under AB 109 has generated extensive commentary and analysis about how well it’s working. As it happens, “Smart Justice” is the theme for the National Association of Counties’ County Government Month, and counties are indeed working smarter to manage these new responsibilities. Many counties are [...]
Ask Santa Cruz County Chief Probation Officer Scott MacDonald about the value of thinking outside the box and his eyes light up. If you want someone to promote the effectiveness of the current corrections system, then you better find someone else to talk to. MacDonald is quick to repeat the quote that “the corrections system needs to do more correcting and less collecting.”
For the past seven years, Santa Cruz County has been thinking outside the box on how it treats technical parole violators. Their program is called the Warrant Reduction Advocacy Program (WRAP) — and it’s working. Since the program’s inception, Santa Cruz County has been able to reduce warrants by more than 60 percent.
At a recent CSAC Institute course, the topic was county information technology services. A key message delivered during the course was how counties need to work toward better use of information technology to efficiently deliver services to residents. And that’s exactly what Nevada County is doing through its My Neighborhood GIS Application. This isn’t a program for which you need an IT degree to figure it out. It’s very user-friendly.
In talking with the students in Solano County’s “Money Matters” program for foster youth, there is a common theme among them: they are getting it. For the first time, they are learning about personal finance and the integral role it will play in their future success.
This program is truly a community partnership among public and private organizations, including Solano County Health and Human Services, Travis Credit Union, United Way North Bay and Solano County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). Representatives of these groups see the program as an investment into the future of Solano County and its residents, providing much-needed instruction and advice to a group that too often falls through the cracks.