Association Honors County Health and Human Services Department With Five Awards
June 08, 2015
The Placer County Health and Human Services Department will receive five 2015 Achievement Awards at next month’s annual convention of the National Association of Counties.
The awards recognize the department for outstanding, innovative programs that:
- Work in partnership with Koinonia Family Services to help at-risk children and their families resolve crises before children enter the juvenile justice system;
- Provide mobile teams to help individuals and families experiencing mental health crises wherever they happen to be - at home or in other locations such as shelters, streets and parking lots;
- Increase employment opportunities for CalWORKs recipients;
- Streamline the application process for healthcare and other services through an automated telephone system that uses verbal, rather than written signatures to verify identities; and
- Help jail inmates sign up for health insurance coverage when they are released from custody. The last program is part of a comprehensive effort by HHS, the Probation Department, Sheriff’s Office and other partners to help adult offenders make successful transitions back into their communities.
“Counties our size rarely win so many awards,” said Chairman Kirk Uhler of the Placer County Board of Supervisors. “Health and Human Services was able to do so because it has a dedicated staff, is willing to embrace innovative approaches to serving the public, and has outstanding community partners. The real winners are our residents - who receive outstanding, cost-effective services that are constantly being improved to adapt to changing needs.”
The department’s Human Services Division won three awards and the Adult System of Care and Children’s System of Care were recognized with one award apiece.
“These awards acknowledge the hard work and dedication of managers and staff throughout Health and Human Services,” said HHS Director Jeffrey Brown. “I am particularly pleased with their commitment to finding innovative, creative solutions to challenges facing counties throughout the state and nation.”
The awards program honors innovative, effective county government programs nationwide that enhance services for residents.
NACo presents awards in 21 categories that reflect the vast range of services counties provide. The categories include children and youth, criminal justice, county administration, environmental protection, information technology, health and civic engagement.
Award winners will be recognized at the association’s 2015 Annual Conference and Exposition to be held July 10–13 in Mecklenburg County, N.C.
BACKGROUND ON AWARD-WINNING PROGRAMS
THE CRISIS RESOLUTION CENTER
The center is a public-private partnership that features the Children’s System of Care, Probation Department and Koinonia Family Services, a nonprofit service provider. The program assists about 500 vulnerable families each year.
The center uses a collaborative approach that helps resolve crises for approximately 100 children and youths each year without them entering formal juvenile justice systems administered by the county and state. The program also provides telephone and in-person crisis resolution services to another 400 families annually.
The effort has been a key factor in a dramatic reduction in juvenile formal and informal probation cases in recent years.
THE MOBILE CRISIS TRIAGE PROGRAM
The program provides crisis intervention and assessment services that augment traditional mental health services available primarily at county facilities and emergency rooms.
The team responds to homes, shelters, streets, parking lots and other locations to assist individuals and families experiencing mental health crises. It is comprised of mental health professionals and para-professionals committed to exploring alternatives to psychiatric hospitalization for individuals involved in mental health crises.
The program provides clinical expertise along with critical peer support and encouragement.
THE HELP TO HIRE PROGRAM
Human Services and the county Office of Economic Development launched the program in 2011 to increase employment opportunities for CalWORKs recipients and help small businesses weather the recession by providing wage subsidies to employers who hire eligible workers.
With the program’s assistance, 26 people were hired the first year and 35 found jobs the following year. In 2014, the county received funds to expand the program, which created additional opportunities for participants to build their skills and experience through work with public and private nonprofits.
In 2014, the program reimbursed the local business community for more than $500,000 in wages and helped 92 participants find unsubsidized employment.
Last year, federal regulations related to the Affordable Care Act were enacted that require state agencies to accept verbal telephone signatures on applications for healthcare assistance in lieu of written signatures. The requirement eliminates the need to mail documents in order to gather written signatures from clients.
Health and Human Services was the first county in California to implement a completely automated telephone signature system. Streamlining the healthcare application process has helped the county successfully enroll more than 13,000 residents in healthcare coverage since February, 2014.
INMATE ELIGIBILITY PROGRAM
Health and Human Services teamed up with the Sheriff’s Office and Probation Department to implement the Medi-Cal Inmate Eligibility Program last year. The program ensures that inmates have access to healthcare coverage when they are released so they can continue receiving physical and behavioral health treatment.
The program initially helped successfully enroll an average of 22 participants in healthcare coverage per month. By March of this year, the average had increased 40 percent to 31 participants per month.