Placer programs make list of “100 Brilliant Ideas” among counties nationwide

Published on June 12, 2017

The National Association of Counties has identified two Placer County programs among its 100 “Brilliant Ideas at Work,” a new initiative to recognize visionary county leadership that has improved quality of life.

An animal services program that saves vulnerable kitten and feral cat populations, along with a program called Health360 offering physical and wellness activities for patients with severe mental illness, were honored. Both programs are run by the health and human services department.

Previously this year, seven county programs received achievement awards from NACo.

“We’re exceedingly proud that these Placer programs are being held up as models for other counties across the nation,” said health and human services director Jeff Brown. “Our staff are extremely creative and forward-thinking, and we’re happy to see these qualities recognized at this level.”

The kittens and feral cats program helps save the lives of some of the most vulnerable feline populations at the animal services center: neonatal kittens too young to be adopted, that require around-the-clock care, and feral cats that are wild and not able to be adopted as a typical pet. In the past, these animals might have been euthanized, but thanks to partnerships with local nonprofits Kitten Central and FieldHaven Feline Center, Placer has found innovative ways to ensure they find a place in the community.

Neonatal kittens are referred to Kitten Central, where they are treated for medical issues and then sent home with foster families to receive care until they are old enough to be adopted, at which point they return to the animal services center. The county’s barn cat program adopts out feral cats in pairs to act as “rodent patrol” in barns, warehouses and rural spaces. Thanks to these programs as well as the improved conditions at the new, state-of-art animal services center, cat adoptions have increased by more than 90 percent this year.

Watch a video to learn more about the program.

The Health360 program offers wellness activities to mental health patients, along with direct access to primary care. The life expectancy for someone with severe mental illness is 25 years shorter than the general population, often due to conditions such as heart disease, cancer or diabetes. Through walking groups, stretch and strengthen classes, smoking cessation and other activities, Health360 aims to integrate physical and mental health treatment.

“They have to address the whole body of the whole person,” said client Debra Voris. “All of that together is what heals a human being. If you're treated like a human being and you're cared for like a human being, you find the process speeds up a lot. You find that you're actually healing quicker.”

In just the first six months of the program, 63 percent of clients in the program lost weight and nearly 30 percent dropped below the “at risk” threshold for carbon monoxide levels from smoking.

Watch a video to learn more about the program.

Learn more about NACo’s “100 Brilliant Ideas” initiative on the organization’s website.