I had the pleasure of spending a couple of days last week in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties to learn about four very innovative programs. A few weeks ago I spent a Saturday in Tulare County meeting with teens and learning how one county program is enhancing their lives.
When I was sworn in as CSAC President last fall, I declared that I wanted my term to be known as the “Year of the Child.” I emphasized that all our actions as an Association and as leaders in our respective counties needed to be put in the context of how they impact our children. For an Association such as ours, this can be complex; while we work on a variety of issues of importance to our members, the actual impact on our children can be perceived as indirect yet still critically important.
There’s a story circulating today on the MSN news site that lists the 10 counties across the country where people live longer on average than elsewhere. Three of them, Marin, Santa Clara and San Mateo are here in California. These are not necessarily the places where individual people live to be the oldest—rather, these are the counties where the median age at death is the highest—in other words, more people are living longer there.
The story points out that most of the counties that made the list—including the three from California — generally have better access to health care — but the article points out another factor too.
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.
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.