County Wins State Awards for Innovation

A first responder training video series, a disaster curriculum and a new trauma-responsive unit are among the County programs which were honored by the state.

San Diego County received eight awards in an annual program recognizing innovation by the state’s counties.

The California State Association of Counties presented San Diego County with two Challenge Awards and six Merit Awards, the most awards given to any county this year.

“The County is proud to be recognized among its peers for the exemplary efforts our workforce puts forth to provide improved and better services to San Diego residents,” said Chairman Ron Roberts, County Board of Supervisors.

The two San Diego County Challenge Award winners were:

  • A First Responder Access and Functional Needs Training video series, developed by the Office of Emergency Services. It provides police, sheriff’s deputies and firefighters with training to improve their understanding of people with physical, cognitive and emotional disabilities, and promotes effective and compassionate methods for evacuating community members with those disabilities. The eight videos address autism, mental illness, cognitive disabilities, Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss, chronic illness, deafness and hearing impairment, blindness and low vision, and physical disabilities.
  • The Trauma Responsive Unit Protects Youth in Custody program is a new specialized unit in Juvenile Hall in which all San Diego County Probation staff are trained to provide evidence-based treatment to youth affected by traumatic experience. The juveniles are taught fundamental skills to manage their behavior and emotions when events trigger traumatic reminders. The unit is one of the first in a juvenile institutional setting to treat trauma, a common experience for justice-involved youth and one that contributes to increased risk-taking, delinquency and future adult criminal behavior.

The other six San Diego County programs to receive Merit Awards include:

  • A separate and distinct line was added for community-based organizations on the County’s Access Customer Service Call Center. The call center supports the Family Resource Centers in delivering public assistance benefits like CalFresh and CalWORKs to San Diego County residents. The program – called Access Brings Innovation, Enhancements to Call Center – is a Health and Human Services Agency project which enables shorter wait times, quickly connects community advocates with a staff member, and allows them to inquire about multiple cases at the same time.
  • The Being Healthy Teen Wheel Project is an interactive tool to empower teen girls to optimize their overall health throughout their lifespan. It has two outer wheels that can be rotated to reveal information on nutrition, physical activity, medical and dental check-ups, self-esteem healthy choices, body changes and care, healthy relationships and emotions. The project was developed by the Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health unit within Health and Human Services Agency.
  • The Disaster Preparedness Curriculum is a project developed by the Office of Emergency Services with the San Diego County Office of Education to teach children about individual, family and community disaster preparedness. The curriculum called “Be Aware, Be Prepared” is developed for fourth grade students to teach them about natural disasters including earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and wildfires. Tips on how to better prepare before, during and after to these hazards are also provided. The curriculum encourages children to work with their families to create a family disaster plan and assemble an emergency kit.
  • A Land Development Process Reorganization project consolidated and streamlined functions from three County departments into a new, centralized Planning & Development Services department to improve customer services involving land development. Prior to this, those services had been spread out among the three departments and customers expressed dissatisfaction. As a result of the reorganization, permit processing times have been reduced for many permit types and a number of new online services are now offered.
  • A new mobile technology implemented by the County Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk automates the tracking and location of boats docked at marinas in San Diego County. Since implementing the Leveraging Tablet/4G Tech for Process Automation program, the County has inventoried 12,000 boats in 70 marinas. Previously, inventory was paper-based and required extensive time to prepare. This new process also improved customer satisfaction by enabling automatic and real-time updates to the line of business application for a greater percentage of timely submission of unsecured tax valuations.
  • An online communication platform was developed by County Public Health Services and the Office of Emergency Services to share information with limited-English proficient communities during emergencies. The Improving Communication with Communities During Emergencies program network uses ReadySanDiego Partner Connection, to share information with community agencies trusted by its members. The two-way communication forum is updated throughout the duration of an emergency and members have agreed to translate this information into various languages and share it with their communities.
Yvette Urrea Moe is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact