By Staff Reports
(Victor Valley)– Innovative and money-saving programs instituted by the County of San Bernardino won 44 Achievement Awards from the National Association of Counties, more than any other county in the nation.
NACo recognizes groundbreaking county government programs throughout the nation in the areas of children and youth, criminal justice, county administration, planning, information technology and health. The 44 programs recognized by NACo vary widely from helping homeless families find housing to improving the Land Use permit process for customers.
This year, the County broke its own record of 31 NACo Achievement Awards set in 2014. In 2013, the County won 18 NACo awards and has won an average of 14 NACo awards during the last 10 years.
This year, only 17 of California’s 58 counties won awards. San Diego County won 39, Los Angeles County won 25, Orange County won nine and Riverside County won two. Nationally, Maricopa County, Arizona came second to the County of San Bernardino with 43 awards.
“These awards emphasize what a great County we live and work in,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman James Ramos. “County officials are continuously working together to provide our residents with the most innovative and efficient programs and services. I congratulate all recipients recognized with NACo awards.”
The following are the County’s award-winning programs:
Be A Hero Campaign: The departments of Children and Family Services and Performance Education & Resource Centers photographed children alongside their heroes in hopes of inspiring others to become the ultimate heroes: adoptive parents. As a result, these community members were able to assist in finding adoptive homes for the children by creating awareness. Through the Be A Hero campaign, firefighters, police officers, medical professionals and members of the San Bernardino Symphony helped to find loving homes for foster children.
P2ACT Program: Vision to Action through Collaborative Governance: The P2ACT program is so named because it represents a moral pact with the people of San Bernardino County for excellence in collaborative, cooperative governance. The Land Use Services Department is charged with multiple essential public services, including planning, building, and code compliance. The purpose of P2ACT is to engage the general public in implementation of the Countywide Vision, expand public participation in policy development that will enhance their lives and livelihoods, focus administrative systems on cooperative governance with other departments and jurisdictions, and train employees to deliver excellent customer service through best practices.
Friday Night Live Program: This Public Health Department program is a youth development and substance abuse prevention program designed to engage youth actively in decision making, planning, and implementation so that participants build on their strengths, develop skills, and engage as leaders in creating healthier schools and communities. Each year, Friday Night Live high school youth chapters sponsor prevention activities before prom to encourage their peers to make the right choices, especially when there will likely be peer pressure to drink alcohol.
Preschool Services Community Partnership Project: The Preschool Services Department serves more than 5,500 children ages 0-5 and their families, the majority who live at or below the federal poverty income level. PSD has developed a comprehensive health services and long-term individualized parent health education program utilizing agreements with several universities, community colleges, non-profit organizations, and other county partners. These partners, including bachelor and graduate level students, provide thousands of hours of health services including parent education, health, nutrition, mental health, and disabilities assessment and care.
Culture-specific Subcommittees: The Department of Behavioral Health has a community-driven Cultural Competency Advisory Committee with 12 Culture-specific Subcommittees. These advisory groups engage in policy advocacy, develop trainings and conduct outreach activities by recruiting members of the community and engaging them in program planning. Members attend scheduled forums to address the needs of their community and develop strategies to address those needs. This community outreach and engagement approach assists the department in designing programs and services that are community-driven and culturally informed.
Get Ready for the Shakeout Event: The County Museum’s annual ShakeOut event is designed to educate the community on earthquake science and emergency preparedness by partnering with state and local agencies to bring the most up to date information. By reorganizing the event the Museum was able to determine the best date and time to maximize community participation. Advanced planning allowed the department to offer a larger event with more activities, performers, and information booths for families to enjoy.
Homeless Outreach Proactive Enforcement (HOPE): In July 2013, the Sheriff’s Department created the Homeless Outreach Proactive Enforcement (HOPE) program as a new, comprehensive approach to reducing homelessness and improving the quality of life for residents. The HOPE program represents a distinctive collaboration from all levels of government which collectively provides a more meaningful and efficient response to homelessness. At the same time, taxpayer costs associated with the archetypal response to homelessness are substantially reduced.
Homeless Outreach Support Team (HOST): The Department of Behavioral Health’s HOST team collaborates with the Sheriff’s Homeless Outreach Proactive Enforcement team to conduct outreach and engage the most difficult and hard to reach clients. Staff works with qualified individuals to complete the necessary applications and assessments in the field and, upon receipt of housing voucher, will assist the individual to locate and move into housing. HOST continues to offer recovery-based wraparound case management services to the individual to assist them to recover, gain wellness, and reintegrate into the community with the ultimate goal of independence and self-sufficiency.
Mountain Breeze Villas Housing Project: This project is an affordable adult (18-59 years of age) housing development in the city of Highland. It has 168 one- and two-bedroom units, 20 of which are reserved for individuals that meet the Mental Health Services Act housing criteria. The Phoenix Community Counseling FSP program provides support services and assists individuals in achieving wellness by maintaining self-sufficiency, increasing employment, reducing hospitalizations and incarceration, and successfully re-integrating into the community.
Animal Cruelty Prevention, Investigation & Prosecution Collaborative: The Animal Cruelty Task Force is designed to promote community awareness, education, investigation and prosecution of animal fighting and abuse in the county, created by the District Attorney’s Office. The task force has increased the awareness of The LINK (the link between animal violence and human violence) and the importance of reporting animal abuse not only in San Bernardino County, but throughout other counties. As a result, many agencies have been exposed to training and law enforcement officers and attorneys are better prepared to properly investigate and prosecute animal abuse cases. Additionally, the task force has increased community awareness and the reporting of animal cruelty through the distribution of various brochures and presentations, educating the public on “The Link.”
AutoFACTS: An Automated Case Management System for the Law Offices of the Public Defender: AutoFACTS is an automated file management and data collection system that was developed to replace Public Defender business processes that were conducted manually. Instead of creating individual client files by hand, AutoFACTS allows for the automated creation of a digital client folder following the court’s appointment of the Public Defender as counsel of record.
Building Skills: The High Desert Juvenile Detention and Assessment Center Building Skills Construction Training Program is designed to give youth the opportunity to explore their interest and aptitudes in the construction industry. This allows the youth to earn credits towards graduation while learning a skill that they can take back to their community and pursue one of the trades being offered.
Fetch Program: The Probation Department Detention Corrections Bureau has partnered with Dances with Dogs trainers to provide a program for youth who are currently detained in the Central Juvenile Detention and Assessment Center and Gateway Program. In January 2015, the six-week Focused Educational Therapy with Compassion and Healing (FETCH) Program was implemented for youth to become educated in the proper care/treatment of dogs and how to train a dog in basic or advanced commands. The FETCH educational mission is to help youth develop personal skills to become responsible and productive members of the community, build self-confidence, develop or improve empathy and to lead by example.
Removing Every Barrier and Rehabilitating (REBAR): The REBAR program of the Public Defender’s Office is designed to provide legal, social, and practical support through four sub-programs: Re-Entry Assistance Program at Day Reporting Centers and other community re-entry events, Community Outreach, Proposition 47 team, and the Post Release Community Supervision (PRCS) team. The goal of the program is to improve re-entry outcomes for adult clients in the criminal justice system and to reduce the number of people who return to the system.
Enhancing Disaster Communication – Creating a Culture of Connectivity: The Office of Emergency Services has developed an innovative and collaborative internet-based disaster communication platform that provides situational awareness and a common operating picture throughout all stakeholder groups from the local level to the state and federal reporting systems. The WebEOC Program only begins with a software product. This highly customized tool has become a model for disaster communication, built to meet California emergency management compliance standards for incident reporting. It seamlessly accommodates the gathering of incident information, providing a means to vet, display and disseminate critical intelligence, and provides the tools to coordinate an effective incident response to a successful recovery.
Medical and Health Operational Area Coordinator (MHOAC) Program: The program includes a manual that provides detailed guidance to the Inland Counties Emergency Medical Agency , Department of Public Health, and Department of Behavioral Health staff responding to medical and public health emergencies. The manual follows the principles of the Incident Command System, the National Incident Management System, and California’s Standardized Emergency Management System. The MHOAC Program is based on guidance described in the California Public Health and Medical Emergency Operations Manual adopted in July 2011 by the California Department of Public Health and the California Emergency Medical Services Authority.
CalWORKs Youth Employment Program (CYEP): The Transitional Assistance Department and Workforce Development Department partnered to provide subsidized employment to Transitional Assistance for Needy Families youth, ages 16 to 24. The goal is to provide 1,500 youth with work readiness training and up to 485 hours, or six months, of successful work experience to assist them with learning workplace skills. Outcomes for the program are very positive: Since January 2015, of the 848 youth served, 128 have successfully transitioned to unsubsidized employment, of which 22 have transitioned off aid due to earnings from employment, and an additional 43 are enrolled in further workforce training.
Remote Group Supervision for Rural Intern Placements: This pilot program was created to address placement challenges in rural community behavioral health settings. The purpose is to alleviate long distance travel for an intern to attend weekly group supervision and allow the intern to complete their education to be a clinical therapist in a location that traditionally has recruitment challenges. An employee intern was placed at a rural mental health clinic – Needles Behavioral Health Center, a four- hour drive to the group supervision location in San Bernardino.
100% Food Handler Card Compliance Program: The California Retail Food Code and San Bernardino County code requires all food handlers to have valid food safety certifications. The Division of Environmental Health Services created the 100% Food Handler Card Compliance Program to ensure compliance. Food facilities now must provide proof of compliance with the county ordinance. Facilities which fail will face billable re-inspections and permit suspension/revocation hearings – which ultimately guarantee compliance. Facilities which are fully compliant with the food handler card ordinance have lower violation rates, including lower rates of critical CDC risk factor violations, as compared to facilities that are not compliant.
ICEMA Continuation of Specialty Care Program: Trauma, stroke and heart attack represent a significant consequence to health and remain three of the top 10 causes of serious injury and death in the United States. Considering the diversity of the geography and the remoteness of many areas of the county, accessing specialty medical care for specialized treatment is often difficult. The ICEMA Continuation of Specialty Care Program is designed to deliver these patients to a hospital with specialized services since rapid and definitive care at a specialty care center often means the difference between survival, lifelong disability or death. The improvement in time to treatment reduces morbidity and mortality and improves the quality of services provided to residents and visitors.
A Collaborative Effort: The In-Home Supportive Services program provides services regarding activities of daily living to elderly and disabled individuals in their own homes to avoid institutionalization. The Department of Aging and Adult Services administers IHSS by determining eligibility and establishing services for beneficiaries. In January 2014, the department reassigned those services to the provider agency. The services include enrollment, payroll, criminal background checks, employment verification and workman’s compensation activities. This collaboration has improved efficiency in processing IHSS applications, enhanced customer service and generated labor cost-savings.
Access, Coordination, and Enhancement: The Department of Behavioral Health’s ACE program seeks to have 100 percent of clients discharged from an inpatient psychiatric facility to have an appointment within seven days of discharge and a medication evaluation within 14 days of discharge.
Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Services – In-House Service Coordination: Children and Family Services consolidated previously private entity services using the In-House Service Coordination initiative. CFS hired five in-house service coordinators to connect children and families to services and entered into contracts with providers of therapeutic services and professional trainers in parenting, anger management, sexual abuse and domestic violence. The initiative has resulted in over 100 percent increase in the number of CFS clients receiving services promptly – from 25 percent in January 2014 to 56 percent in November 2014.
Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths: The Department of Behavioral Health has systematically implemented the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) tool across children and youth mental health programs. The CANS is an international clinical tool that facilitates individual clinical services and assists in evaluating the aggregate impact of those services to aid in the assessment and treatment of children and youth. Clinical, administrative, and support staff working for 27 children’s mental health providers at 83 service units have entered approximately 21,600 assessments for 9,333 children and youth between January 2014 and February 2015.
Customer Video Interviewing: The Transitional Assistance Department and the Department of Child Support Services developed a Customer Video Interviewing approach to obtaining mandatory child support enforcement information required for eligibility to the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program. The county is 20,000 square miles, much of which is remote desert land that poses a significant problem for customers lacking private or public transportation, and County staff needing to travel to remote offices to obtain required information through an interview. Customer Video Interviewing is customer friendly, flexible, efficient and reduces environmental impact by eliminating unnecessary travel.
Family Visitation and Support Centers: As part of child welfare services, children are removed from their families under certain circumstances, and placed in foster care for safety reasons. When future reunification of such children with their families is part of their case plans, it is important to maintain ties between the children in foster care and their families. To maintain parent-child ties in preparation for reunification, Children and Family Services initiated and implemented the Family Visitation and Support Centers program in June 2013. The program provides children and families with enriching and lively visitation experiences in nine locations spread throughout the county.
Five Year Lease Assistance Program: The Housing Authority implemented this program designed to help families achieve economic independence while they receive five years of housing assistance through the Housing Choice Voucher program. Nationally, a program of this type is expected to have a 25 percent success rate. In the county’s program, the percentage of families likely to become self-sufficient increased from 12.8 percent to 30.3 percent within the past year. This increase can be attributed to several positive changes over the last year for program participants: earned income increased by 12.3 percent, welfare income decreased by 13.6 percent, and 26 percent of unemployed families became employed.
IHSS Intake Process Improvement Plan: Aging and Adult Services implemented this initiative which resulted in a 77 percent improvement in the In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) application processing rate. New applications for IHSS must be processed within 30 days, and IHSS applicants have 45 days to submit a Health Care Certification which is used to confirm the need for IHSS services. Due to the high volume of IHSS applications in the county and staff turnover, there was a monthly average of 1,250 pending applications prior to implementing the program. After implementation, IHSS applications are being processed at a faster rate resulting in timely delivery of IHSS benefits to more beneficiaries and a significant reduction in the monthly average of pending applications from 1,250 to 310.
It’s Not Your Fault Campaign: Elders and dependent adults are reluctant to report abuse and neglect due to a false sense of guilt and fear. Aging and Adult Services started the It’s Not Your Fault campaign as an outreach to seniors and dependent adults to report any incidents of abuse and neglect that occur. The campaign includes posters, flyers, handouts for social workers, Facebook and bus advertisements. Through It’s Not Your Fault, social workers encourage their clients to follow through on making reports of abuse that are occurring either in their lives, or in the lives of others. The number referrals received throughout the county has grown slightly over 100 percent since the campaign was introduced.
Pilot “Work” Requirement Program: Through this unique new Housing Authority program, all non-disabled current and future adult household members between the ages of 18 and 61 must participate for a minimum of 15 hours a week in “work” activities. The Housing Authority’s Pilot “Work” Requirement is designed to provide families with both incentives and supportive services to help them achieve stable and meaningful employment. Since its implementation, the average earned income for families has increased by nearly 13 percent as a result of decreases in unemployment among heads of households.
Preventing Fraud through Analytics: The Transitional Assistance Department developed an analytics predictive model to prevent fraud and improve efficiency of the investigation process. Statistical analyses were performed on a set of cases which had confirmed findings of fraud in the past. The data from these cases was obtained from the county’s database and the California Statewide Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) System. An analytics predictive model was developed from these analyses and applied to current Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program cases. Investigations were performed on 500 random cases to determine the percentage of discrepancies found. The identification of discrepancies significantly increased from 6.1 percent to 20.8 percent. The use of analytics has resulted in increased fraud prevention activities, earlier identification of fraud, and a proactive approach to identifying potential cases to investigate.
Trigger Alerts: The Transitional Assistance Department developed Trigger Alerts to provide notification to supervisors, managers, deputies and the director specific case actions deemed high priority for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Child Care, Medicaid, and Welfare-to-Work programs. Trigger Alerts give management the ability to access information at the county, region, office, unit, worker, and case level. Trigger Alerts have proven to be a very effective tool for managing workflow in a task-based environment and preventing delinquencies, as well as preventing case processing errors.
Work@Home: The Transitional Assistance Department created Work@Home as a solution to improve customer service, process the influx of health care program applications generated by the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and meet service level agreements mandated by the state. In addition, this program allows the County to efficiently increase its workforce, without the need to build additional offices or restructure existing locations. Work@Home enables eligibility workers to work from a designated space within their home. Performance results show that more than 40 percent of total calls were answered by Work@Home employees, proving that a small group of dedicated staff can make a significant impact to overall workload and productivity.
Contract Tracking System: The Contract Tracking System is a web-based application designed to assist county departments to efficiently track contracts on a regular basis. The main objective is to track the two main elements on a contract: time and money. County initiatives are heavily driven by contracts. It may be for building highways/better roads, setting up a new cardiology laboratory at community hospitals, or upgrading and/or installing computers at elementary schools. The system ensures that time and money is closely monitored to avoid any disruption in executing the objectives of our county contracts.
Customer Service Portal: The Division of Environmental Health Services implemented a web-based portal which features a service that allows customers to subscribe to information about any facility within the county. Once subscribed, the individual will automatically receive a link to newly generated inspection reports; complaints regarding environmental health concerns can be submitted through the web portal, where the customer will receive automated status updates on the complaint; and facility operators can effortlessly submit electronic payments for health permits through the web portal. The Customer Service Portal provides accessible services and information that meets customers’ needs, further protecting public health, promoting safety and preventing environmental hazards.
DAAS Case Management System: This web-based application is designed to manage and track reports of abuse within the county’s adult community. Each call is logged as an intake record and later routed to the appropriate Aging and Adult Services agency to be further processed. Each step is monitored in the system, from the social worker’s initial face–to-face interview with the victim to identifying perpetrators validating all allegations, working with law enforcement, providing service plans for the victim, and providing case conclusion. The system manages all adult reports of abuse in the community and ensures victims receive the help and assistance they need.
Electronic Pesticide Use Reporting Program: For a mosquito and vector control program, pesticide use and tracking is a necessity, as well as a mandate by the state. The volume of pesticide used to conduct daily operations adds up quickly, and keeping accurate records that are easily manageable can become overwhelming. For this reason, the County’s Mosquito and Vector Control Program looked toward technology to develop an innovative and unique way of logging all of its pesticide use in an electronic database. This advancement has also enabled the quick and easy reporting of pesticide use to outside agencies (such as the Department of Agriculture), and saved hundreds of staff hours.
ICEMA EMS Credentialing Portal: ICEMA implemented a paperless online EMS Credentialing Portal to complete credential applications from any location at any time. Emergency medical services personnel are credentialed by ICEMA to practice in San Bernardino, Inyo and Mono counties. The credentialing process required personnel to visit ICEMA’s office during normal business hours to submit a paper application and payment, which took about an hour. The online process improved efficiency by allowing staff to review and issue new credentials in less than 15 minutes. The process ultimately reduced costs and enhanced overall customer satisfaction.
Online Banking Tax Payment Project: The Office of the Auditor-Controller/Treasurer/Tax Collector implemented an Online Banking Tax Payment Project that has increased efficiency and effectiveness in processing online banking payments. Implementation of this project has allowed the Tax Collector to receive and process many payments as ACH transactions, within 48 hours, and has significantly reduced the amount of staff time necessary to research and process these types of payments.
Heritage Month Celebrations: The County Library’s Heritage Month Celebrations are designed to celebrate the histories, cultures, and contributions of Americans throughout history. This was accomplished by creating book displays at 32 branch libraries designed to highlight the educational and historical contributions of people within the heritage month, developing a stronger book collection of local history and historical figures, and hosting events at the County’s large libraries that celebrate the diversity of people living in the community. Through these events we have built partnerships with local organizations, businesses, community groups, cities, and nonprofit organizations.
Summer Reading Program Revamp and Restructure: The County Library’s Summer Reading Program is a read for rewards-based program designed to encourage children to read during the summer months. The Library revamped the program to increase the number of children, teens, and adults reading. The new and improved program has increased circulation, participation, and strengthened partnerships with local schools.
The Outdoor Family: The Outdoor Family was created by County Regional Parks to introduce individuals and families to basic camping skills. First-time tent campers are led through an instructional overnight experience packed with activities and learning objectives which are divided into three separate categories: the basics like setting up a campsite, recreational activities families can do together, like fishing and teaching people to enjoy the outdoors while minimizing environmental impacts. The overall goal of The Outdoor Family is to impart confidence and knowledge to a more diverse audience that will lead to future outings.
DAAS Mentoring Program: The Department of Aging and Adult Services Mentoring Program was created to provide a networking opportunity for professional development. The program includes the pairing of participating mentor and mentee employees who work to create a career development plan that focuses on the mentee’s interests and goals. The department has benefitted from having more knowledgeable, well-rounded employees, which results in greater productivity, higher retention rates, and improved customer service. Participants have reported positive impacts such as going back to school, receiving a promotion, or taking on new duties in their current position.
CATER Customer Service Advancements thru Technology, Engagement & Process Refinement: The County’s Land Use Services Department created the CATER Program to make the permitting process convenient, timely and accessible. The results have been dramatic. Average permit review time was reduced by more than 20 percent in the first year. The County is on track to exceed this rate in 2014-15.