Four Nevada County programs have been honored with the California State Association of Counties (CSAC) 2021 Challenge and Merit Awards. CSAC’s annual statewide program honors innovation and best practices in county government.
Nevada County’s Internship Program received a Challenge Award, while the County’s Rapid Response Team, Budget Tools and Training Program, and Emergency Sheltering efforts all received Merit Awards. This year, CSAC received 433 entries – the most in the program’s history. County recipients showcased the amazing creative and collaborative solutions being utilized across topics, such as the pandemic, homelessness, voter access, technical assistance, organic waste, employee wellness, cannabis, and more. An independent panel of judges with expertise in county programs selected the award recipients.
Human Resources Internship Program has created a new talent pipeline through deliberate planning and optimization. The process, recruitment, application, background, interview, to potential hire follows a predictable and repeatable workflow with results 21-28 days on average for placement. The metric-tracked training plans and continuous communication with interns create an expansive learning experience focused individualized success.
Since 2019, interns have collectively worked more than 22,600 hours and contributed over $431,000 in salaries funded by our partners. Utilizing grant dollars from the Alliance For Workforce Development, six interns worked over 2100 hours at a savings of $47,000. CalWORKs saw promise in our program using it for 32% of their total enrolled applicants to partner with us for internships, for a total of 117 weeks, yielding 9,200 hours, each averaging 25 hours a week at more than $118k. Moreover, our Veteran programs saw eleven veterans working over 8,280 hours, saving the County $186k in salary.
Rapid Response Team
Social Services Rapid Response Team (RRT) works in tandem with Nevada County Child Welfare Services in a three-pronged approach to meet immediate needs of families and prevent the possibility of a higher level of intervention. First, a member of the RRT participates daily in Review Evaluate Decide (RED) Team with the Nevada County Child Welfare Emergency Response Unit to assess all referrals that come to the Department to determine the appropriate response and if a referral should be made to the RRT. Second, when a referral is assigned, social workers and members of the RRT respond together to initiate service from the very first contact. This collaboration eliminates the time gap that the Department had recognized as a needed improvement to engage families, promote safety, decrease recidivism and mitigate higher levels of intervention. Third, whenever a client is placed outside the county and initiating services takes time, the RRT can provide immediate support until more permanent services are implemented.
59 referrals have been made to the RRT and 21 families have successfully completed their case plan goals. The RTT has provided an additional 400 contacts with families separate from tandem visits with Child Welfare. The most important results and success of the RRT, thus far, has been that eight children have remained home with their families that, without RRT intervention and support, would have been placed in a higher level of care.
Budget Tools and Training Program
The County Executive Office’s Budget Improvement Program included developing common best practice tools for budget development and making those available countywide, combined with a training program to put knowledge – and more importantly, ownership of the entire budget submission package – in the hands of departments. The process began with a survey of all levels of staff involved in the budget process to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of the current process and generate ideas for improvement. The next step was to create a team of core fiscal/budget staff to use the survey results to create common tools and training for all levels of county staff to address identified shortcomings. Finally, survey data was used to develop a training program to consistently communicate best practices, share the new tools, build departmental ownership of their budgets, and ultimately eliminate many of the inefficiencies between budget development, budget review, and finalization.
This project vastly improved initial departmental budget submissions, reduced the follow-up and review required by the CEO, and resulted in staff alignment to arrive at high-quality budgets. Most importantly, the entire budget package is more meaningful and useful to departments, consistently tying together appropriations requests with strategic objectives and departmental priorities more clearly and consistently.
Social Services recognized the immediate need to support our community and our Public Health Department as our entire County grappled with the increasing COVID-19 cases. Staff actively worked and secured eight travel trailers from Southern California to accommodate the anticipated COVID emergency shelter needs. Once here, all eight travel trailers needed to be leveled and hooked up to sewer, water, and electrical. Multiple shopping trips were made to set up each travel trailer with needed supplies. Social services staff met every customer at an available travel trailer to unlock it and provide them with an operational tour of how each appliance worked. Every day, including weekends, individual groceries, medications, and personal needs items were purchased and delivered for each customer while in isolation. Social services staff worked with customers to resolve any financial assistance needs while providing a much-needed emotional lifeline. When the travel trailers weren’t available, the Team pivoted quickly to secure local motel rooms. Social services and probation worked in collaboration to provide needed COVID secure transports.
Social Services has served over 267 high-risk, minimally resourced customers who COVID-19 has impacted. Customers have been incredibly appreciative of the support provided. Public Health, local health care providers, and hospitals can refer patients to Social Services to be discharged safely and supported through emergency sheltering.
Find more information about CSAC’s 2021 Challenge Award Recipients at www.counties.org/post/2021-challenge-award-recipients.