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HHS Highlights

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September 2017 issue


Hello colleagues!

The summer just flew by. I can’t believe it’s already time to prepare for my favorite holiday...Halloween. (Think I’m joking? Guess again...) I hope you’ll all join me in dressing up next month. Send photos into our public information person, Katie — we’d love to share some in the next newsletter.


Some of you got a jumpstart with costumes at our employee picnic a few weeks back with your 80s gear (ahem...Dr. Oldham? Is that you?). I was happy to see HHS represented well, and those teams that spearheaded booths did a fantastic job engaging some of the county’s other departments to explain the work we do. I’m also thrilled to see the participation in the county-wide walking challenge. My own team is a little behind, but I see several HHS teams in the top 10, not to mention some very creative team names! As the challenge comes to an end I invite you to take advantage of the wellness page on MyPlacer all year round, as it’s regularly updated with nutrition and fitness tips that you can weave into your day.


I did want to address the status of the proposed new HHS building. I know for many of our employees who work in the barracks in Auburn, a new facility can’t come fast enough. In August our Board of Supervisors stopped short of approving funding for a new building, but allowed staff to move forward with an environmental impact report and lifecycle analysis for the project. I feel optimistic that we will move forward and continue progress towards a facility that can better integrate our services and provide a more suitable environment for our clients and staff alike. I will keep you all updated as we move forward. I was happy to tour our renovated Cirby Hills office recently and see how changes there have modernized our Roseville operations and improved our efficiency (read a bit more about that below). 




Human Services: Event next week to offer resources for low-income individuals, families

The second annual “Placer Empowering People” resource fair will be held on Friday, Oct. 6 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Auburn Renewal Center at 12225 Rock Creek Road in Auburn.

This event is targeted to some of the most vulnerable citizens of our community including people who are low-income, homeless, at-risk of being homeless, uninsured or under-insured.

Information and direct services from county staff and a variety of community partners will be available at the resource fair. Attendees can receive:

  • Medical, dental and vision exams
  • Food
  • Flu shots
  • Benefits eligibility
  • Affordable housing information
  • Credit and financial advice
  • Veteran services
  • Counseling, education and employment information
  • Pet wellness checks including rabies vaccinations and microchipping
  • And more!

“We’re trying to collect a variety of these resources under one roof so that we can better help people on their path to self-sufficiency,” said Human Services director Linda Bridgman.

Please refer your clients in need and encourage them to attend.

Adult System of Care: Recovery Happens recap and Cirby Hills remodel 

Voices of hope: Event showcases journeys to recovery

Each person standing in the circle took their turn on the microphone:


“Six months.”


“Forty years.”


“Ten days.”


Some had just begun a journey to recovery from substance use or mental illness, while others had been on this road for a long time. Combined, the attendees at “Recovery Happens” — the county’s annual event celebrating people in recovery — had nearly two centuries of recovery and sobriety under their belts.


Written on Kathy’s nametag in marker was “8 years.” The Auburn resident had been in recovery from alcoholism for more than two decades, but after being injured in a car accident she became addicted to prescription opioid painkillers.


“I had to start all over,” she said. And she did.


Today, she is guiding her daughter on a similar path. Kelley is 23 and has been in recovery from substance use for 18 months.


Read more, view more photos from the event and view video stories of recovery.


Remodel completed at Cirby Hills


A 10-months-long remodel of the county’s adult behavioral health facility at 101 Cirby Hills Drive in Roseville has been completed. The new design is intended to co-late staff to increase collaboration, improve working conditions, and create a more welcoming environment to clients.


“We have already received many comments from clients about the new lobby area and furniture, and how it makes them feel valued,” said Adult System of Care director Amy Ellis.


The remodel was designed to bring all behavioral health service programs to the lower level and staff who do not have clients coming to the building for services were moved upstairs.  Careful planning placed programs that have different purposes but served the same population in close proximity- so that they could better collaborate on cases and improve the quality of care.  For example, psychiatrists and case managers are now easily accessible from the front lobby, creating a better experience for those served.    


In addition to the lobby area, some features of the remodeled building include:

  • Increased number of rooms  for the delivery of services are available
  • A large workspace known as “The Cove” where direct service staff are located.  This space includes a variety of programs from mental health,  peer and family advocates, nursing, mobile crisis services and Whole Person Care.
  • Staff members responsible for adults with specialized high needs been centralized in a single location.
  • Changes to both the  voluntary crisis residential unit and the locked psychiatric health unit, including security upgrades.
  • Relocation of the Cirby Clubhouse, a peer-driven resource center that operates programs like Health 360, to make it more modern and improve privacy and access.  Health 360 is a SAMSHA-funded grant that focuses on improving the overall health of participants.

Staff are pleased to have a much improved space to deliver high quality mental health, substance use, and other services for vulnerable adults. 

Cirby Hills 

Cirby Hills 

Cirby Hills

Environmental Health: Statewide award and drinking water workshop 

Environmental Health wins statewide award

Placer County is the recipient of this year’s Excellence in Environmental Health Award from the California Conference of Directors of Environmental Health.


The award is bestowed by peers in the environmental health field, and recognizes programs that are innovative, creative and effective. CCDEH is comprised of environmental health directors from 62 jurisdictions across California. Learn more about the award and browse the other nominees here.


Placer received the award for a program that created partnerships with local faith-based organizations and nonprofits to ensure kitchen safety for mass food preparation when making meals for homeless and emergency shelters. Learn more about the program and view a video here.



“To be recognized by our peers from a competitive pool of quality programs is an honor,” said division director Wesley Nicks. “Jurisdictions across the state are now looking to replicate what we started right here in Placer County.”


Drinking water workshop next week in Squaw Valley


Placer County is hosting a free drinking water workshop from Oct. 2-5 in Squaw Valley. Regulators and operators from around the region are invited to attend. In addition to receiving training, attendees will ride a scenic gondola to the upper mountain of Squaw Valley for a tour of the water system’s wells, storage tanks, pumps and filters. Learn more here

Public Health: Nutrition activities and health officer column & more 

Public health staff bring nutrition, fitness fun into local schools


“You got this!”


Sami Kader led children at Barrett Ranch Elementary in a chant before they began rotating through a variety of exercise stations - hopscotch, jumping jacks and more - with their parents. Strobe lights and music rounded out the exciting atmosphere.


Kader’s motivational and fitness program has become popular around the region. This visit was sponsored by Placer County’s Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention program, a public health effort that focuses on promoting wellness in the region, particularly in low-income areas.


A few weeks later, at Antelope Meadows Elementary, children lined up to contribute their portion of a paint-by-numbers mural — a colorful image of children running and playing sports with the slogan “Play Better.” The mural encourages physical activity, and was also sponsored by NEOP.


“What’s it going to be when it’s done?” wondered one girl in the second grade as she meticulously painted in a blue shape on the canvas. Other children were less precise in their artistry, but all had fun. The finished project will hang in the school’s multipurpose room.


“We want the kids to feel a sense of pride when they see the mural, and be reminded to get outside and move,” said Health Educator Megan Thompson.


Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention program outreach activities

Follow NEOP’s Facebook page for nutritious recipes, exercise ideas and more that you can use at home!


Dispatches from our health officer

Have you seen Dr. Rob Oldham pop up in your local paper? He now writes a monthly column for Gold Country Media papers. Read his most recent writings:  

Administrative Services: Meet Darlene 

Meet Darlene

Darlene King is the new director of Administrative Services, serving all of HHS. She took the time to answer a few questions about herself:

Tell us about your background.

I was born and raised in Nevada County. I went away for college in Chico, and worked for a bit in Long Beach, but was then really fortunate to be able to make it back. I later found it comical that I spent my youth wanting to get out of that small town and had these visions of living in a high rise in the city. Priorities shifted pretty fast and I found myself with a sense of urgency to get back to my family, community, the beauty of nature, our lakes and the filtered sunlight that comes through the pine trees.  It was just the most beautiful place to me, and it took leaving to gain that appreciation.


Once my husband and I made it back to the area, I commuted to Roseville for five years and worked for the IT department at PRIDE Industries. And I loved it; it was just a phenomenal place to be. You really got close to the social mission, I felt a direct link between the systems I supported and was able to see how they helped provide work for people with disabilities. One of the analysts I was working with left to go work for Nevada County.  He called and I soon followed him. It turned out to be a great adventure. At Nevada, I worked as an IT Analyst and then had the chance to work directly for Social Services.  After that, I went to work in the CEO’s office and then came back to work as the Chief Fiscal/Administrative Officer in Health and Human Services.


I’ve taken a few paths; I didn’t lock my professional expectations to a perfectly-formatted, upward-moving line graph. Rather, I pursued areas where I had interest or felt fulfilled, sometimes it meant taking a reduction in pay to work on a challenging project or to work for an executive that had skills in which I would benefit from being exposed.  These choices have served me well.  I have been honored to work for a few exceptional managers that afforded me opportunities that not many would.  This fact never escapes me and, instilling confidence in staff and helping to ensure that they are well-positioned for future advancement opportunities is one of my strongest professional passions.


What’s your initial experience at Placer been like?

I have a three week rule, where I’m prepared not to love it for three weeks… that period when you’re just wrapping your brain around who’s who, where meeting rooms are located and how to complete the simplest of tasks.  Maybe it's psychosomatic, but at the three week mark everything really started to click…  I have greater clarity in regards to priorities and have quickly gained a deep sense of appreciation for the staff and directors within Health and Human Services.  I am particularly enjoying the dynamic, technology-rich projects that we have in the queue right now and look forward to becoming more entrenched in opportunities designed to expand Health and Human Services offerings to those in our community.


Are you excited to spend more time in this area?

Yes, I think this move has been a great expansion for my day-to-day life. I loved working for Nevada County, raising my family there, and definitely feel deeply rooted. That being said, this has been a terrific chance to venture out and has allowed me to appreciate a different landscape.  I think you always have bit of self-doubt when you approach a major change, but I could not be happier with my decision to join Placer County.


What are some hobbies you enjoy?

I had a tendon replaced in my foot last year and lost access to the trails that had become a significant part of my life.  As a result, my husband and I took up kayaking and have thoroughly enjoyed the beauty that accompanies paddling around our many lakes. We have recently been adding hiking back to our weekends and typically make it a point of staying to rejuvenate for a few hours once we get far enough out on a trail.  I love to garden and often find myself sewing simple square things that don’t require a pattern like pillows and tablecloths.


What do you like about working in Finance and Administration?

I appreciate that the work we do behind the scenes in Administration helps to smooth the critical missions of the divisions that we support.  And, because we are not typically on the front lines, I think it's really important that we find ways to remain connected to services provided to meet the needs of our community. Finance just makes sense to me; it always has. Regardless of what paths I have ventured down, something always brings me back to Finance.  I tend to really like both the administrative and fiscal sides, and navigate both pretty well.

It is beyond rewarding to work with the individuals in Health and Human Services Administration and to see them developing camaraderie as they tackle difficult projects.  When I’m not at work, I often picture their faces and think about their hopes for their future and I wonder, How can I help with that?  I think that we've got an incredible team and I really want to keep drilling down and making sure that we are providing opportunities for everybody, all the way through the organization.  Those with whom I have worked know that my favorite tag line is “We got this.”

Children's System of Care: Trauma summit; Youth commission press conference & team photo 

Summit brings hundreds together to learn about childhood trauma, resiliency

More than 300 people — from educators and mental health professionals, to staff members from nonprofit organizations and local governments — attended Placer County’s first Trauma and Resiliency Summit. The event was a collaborative effort from the Children’s System of Care, the Placer County Office of Education and numerous community partners.


“It’s immensely powerful to have all these people under one roof,” said Health and Human Services Director Jeff Brown in opening remarks.  “The best way to improve resiliency is through relationships and building connections in our community.”


The summit focused on a question: How can we help children overcome serious adversity and go on to lead meaningful and productive lives?


Two days of learning were led by a renowned psychologist, Dr. Mark Katz, who spoke about research into trauma and what are known as ACEs — adverse childhood experiences. He explored ways that adults can help foster resilience in children.


“There's never anything so wrong with us that what's right with us can't fix,” he said.


The first day of the summit was open to the general public. The second was attended by teams from various agencies, including people in leadership roles and those with direct access to youth. Attendees worked across agencies and also within their own teams to set goals and create a plan for implementing trauma-informed approaches in their daily work, whether at a school or in a therapy session.


They also heard from a panel of individuals with “lived experience;” that is, people who had gone through significant trauma in their lives, ranging from abuse to difficult experiences in foster care. Panelists described the adults who had made a difference in their lives


"What really helped me was people being real, and human, and guiding me when I got lost," one panelist said.


The discussion around childhood trauma and resiliency continues on social media with the hashtag #PLACEResilient.


Youth voice plays big role in passing local laws around underage drinking

Teens from the Placer County Youth Commission hosted a press conference at Placer High School to highlight the passing of a new social host ordinance in the City of Auburn.


Social host ordinances are laws that hold adults accountable for hosting or allowing parties and gatherings where minors drink alcohol, use marijuana or any controlled substance. The city of Auburn recently passed such an ordinance, and Roseville and Rocklin adopted similar laws in recent years. Youth have been a driving force behind these laws, regularly attending and presenting at meetings and advocating for their passage. The youth commission and the Coalition for Auburn and Lincoln worked together to bring the issue of underage drinking and other drug use to the attention of parents, youth, community members and city leaders.


At the press conference, youth spoke about the impacts of underage drinking and other drug use.


“Why did we feel we needed to take action, why did we care? Truly, it is more than statistics,” said youth commissioner Claire Jordan. “Over the years, the youth commission has talked to many groups and city councils. We’ve shared how we have seen our friends suffer — social media posts of drunk behavior that ruins reputations, losing drivers licenses or even sports scholarships, being victims of violence, unprotected sex, accidents, losing parents’ trust, forming addictions. We’ve even experienced the tragic loss of young lives in our communities from things like impaired driving and alcohol poisoning.”


Various dignitaries also spoke and applauded the teens’ efforts, including Supervisor Jim Holmes, Auburn Police Chief John Ruffcorn, Auburn Mayor Matt Spokely and Health and Human Services Director Jeff Brown.


“I think sometimes youth don’t realize how powerful their voices can be,” Brown said. “These young men and women are a great example to others and are making real change in their communities.”


“We have our whole lives in front of us and we want the best future possible. Using drugs and alcohol will not help us reach our goals,” Jordan said.

 Placer County Youth Commission press conference 

Click here to watch video.

CSOC staff comes together for team recognition

The entire Children’s System of Care division, including probation and embedded partners, gathered at Loomis Basin Park for an afternoon of team building exercises. Check out this photo of the group!



Animal Services: Dog playgroups and Open House success 

Personality, playfulness shine through in dog playgroups


There are the “gentle and dainty” dogs who are calm and laid back. The “push and pull” dogs who enjoy chasing and driving others. The “rough and rowdy” dogs who love to get physical, tumbling and wrestling with one another.


And then, there are the “seek and destroy” dogs, who are aggressive and provocative.


“They’re the ones you’ve got to watch out for,” said animal care attendant Debbie Hawley, who along with colleague Nancy Magana runs the canine playgroups at Placer County’s Animal Services Center.


For larger dogs with lots of energy, like pit bulls or labradors, being cooped up in a kennel all day creates stress, often leading the dog to bark and posture fiercely. Potential adopters can be turned off by this behavior. Walks alone don’t provide sufficient exercise, mental stimulation or touch for many animals.


Hawley and Magana launched the playgroup enrichment program at the previous shelter after attending a training, but in the new facility it has blossomed with the help of spacious dog runs, kiddie pools and catch pens where each dog is initially held to gauge their temperament prior to being let loose with the others. Staff introduce dogs into the group one by one and match them by play style.

Read more and watch video of dog playgroups in action!

Open house draws hundreds to animal services center

Animal Services also held their first Open House in collaboration with Gold Country Wildlife across the street. The event was a huge success, with hundreds of attendees. Check out some photos here!

Past Issues

September 2017

July 2017

May 2017

March 2017