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County Solutions and Innovation Blog​​
Forum Recap: Systems of Care in Juvenile Justice and Mental HealthNew

(Left to right) Mary Jo Meyers, Deputy Director, Wraparound Milwaukee; Dr. Altha Stewart, Director, Just Care Family Network; and Denise Sulzbach, Director, Policy and Strategic Development, Institute for Innovation and Implementation, University of Maryland, School of Social Work.

This morning, NACo’s Forum on Optimizing Health, Justice and Public Safety opened with a session that focused on Systems of Care in Juvenile Justice and Mental Health.  The session was moderated by Ms. Denise Sulzbach who is the Director of Policy and Strategic Development at The Institute for Innovation and Implementation, University of Maryland School of Social Work. Mary Jo Meyers, Deputy Director of Wraparound Milwaukee, spoke about Wraparound Milwaukee in Milwaukee County, Wis. and Dr. Altha Stewart, Executive Director of Just Care Family Network spoke about the Just Care Family Network program in Shelby County, Tenn.

Systems of Care rely on research and science that are data driven to encompass cultural and linguistic competence, community based programs, youth-guided programs and family-driven programs.  Elements of the program include mental health, child welfare, juvenile justice, education, and caregivers.  Wraparound Milwaukee serves 1,100 families.  They partner with Medicaid, Juvenile Justice, Child Welfare, and Child Mental Health.  Just Care Family Network services children from ages 5-19 with emotional disturbances who are at risk of being taken out ...

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3 days ago | 0

Forum Recap: Taking Care of Our OwnNew

(Left to right) Lynn Cripe, PhD, Director, Resilience Services, Konterra Group; Lt. Jeffrey Duckworth,  San Diego County Sheriff's Department; Ron Manderscheid, PhH, NACBHDD


County Leaders work to ensure the behavioral health needs of county employees and residents are met.  During the session, participants learned about the unique needs that face county employees that work in crisis moments and learned what they can do as an elected official or emergency manager to alleviate the mental and emotional burdens.  How law enforcement and health care providers engage those with mental illness and de-escalate situations.

Key points:

  • Taking care of your own before a crisis situation happens.  In San Diego, employees who may be privately dealing with problems such as substance abuse, loss of a friend or relative, domestic situations, or any other issue that may occur that causes stress;  the county offers confidential mental health and counseling services that they can go to at their own discretion free of cost.

  • Be certain to have a strong peer support system.  Have peers check in on each other in a crisis.

  • Be certain that your first responders and county officials have the proper outlet ...

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3 days ago | 0

​Forum Recap: Mobile Workshop—Charleston County Judicial CenterNew

Carson Fox, Chief Operating Office / Chief Counsel, National Association of Drug Court Professionals addresses workshop participants.

NACo’s Forum on Optimizing Health, Justice and Public Safety included a mobile workshop where participants had the opportunity to visit the Charleston County Judicial Center.  At this workshop, participants learned about diversion programs that addressed unique needs of defendants in Charleston County.  Specifically, participants were educated on Mental Health Court, Juvenile Drug Court and Adult Drug Court.


There were two diversion programs that participants learned greatly about in today’s mobile workshop: Drug Court and Mental Health Court.  In 1989, a severe drug problem began that highly affected the judicial system.  Defendants were being processed and the judicial system became overwhelmed.  A Miami judge created a joint treatment and justice system where defendants were given intensive drug and mental health treatment as well as on- going judicial supervision.  Currently in Charleston, S.C. the Drug Court accepts high risk and high need cases where defendants are non –violent offenders who are addicted to drugs.  The Mental Health Initiative in Charleston, S.C. is unique because of its comprehensive and provider guided s...

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3 days ago | 0

Forum Recap: Health Coverage Enrollment for the County Jail PopulationNew

​Following a workshop on NACo’s Mental Illness and Jails Initiative with NACo Executive Director Matt Chase and former Director of Behavioral Health Services in Salt Lake County, Utah Pat Fleming, concurrent sessions were held, one of which was the “Health Coverage Enrollment for the County Jail Population.” The session was moderated by Hon. Jim McDonough, Commissioner, Ramsey County, Minn.; with Christian Heiss, Senior Program Officer with the Center for Health Care Strategies, Inc., providing a national overview of what opportunities are available to counties to enroll justice-involved individuals in health coverage; Commander Sheila Lorance from Marion County, Ore., speaking from a mid-size county perspective on their efforts to provide enrollment opportunities to individuals in their jail; and Marlena Jentz, Deputy Director of Programs with the Cook County, Ill. Sheriff’s Office, discussing what Cook County has done to partner across the county to engage the justice-involved in health coverage. 

Health care systems across the country, including those in county jails, are undergoing significant reform. As these reforms are implemented, county jails have an opportunity to enroll eligible detainees and inmates in health insuran...

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3 days ago | 0

Forum Recap: Emergency Management for Vulnerable Populations


Elected officials and emergency managers are responsible for the public safety of all residents in their jurisdictions.  However, there are distinct populations such as the elderly, disabled, non-English speakers and others that may be harder to reach prior to or during a disaster.  Learn about successful efforts in jurisdictions to incorporate these populations in an emergency plan so that everyone is protected.

Key Points from Presentation:

  • Planning is paramount:  Identify the needs of that community and what will they need in a disaster situation.  Where do those assets exist? (ex.  In Florida, there was a need for sign language interpreters, but the state didn't employ the amount that was necessary.  So they were able to reference their list of sign language interpreters to call when there’s a need.

  • Invest in an accessible hazard alert system (think about ones that may be used for those who cannot speak, hear, or are visually impaired)

  • Seminole County has a special needs registry where those who have disabilities can enroll so the county knows where they are, and how to get services to them in a crisis situation.

  • Identify your hazard vulnerabilities (hurricane...

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3 days ago | 0

Forum Recap: NACo’s Mental Illness and Jails Initiative


NACo and the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center are jointly embarking on an initiative to reduce the number of individuals with mental illnesses in jails.  Mental health and justice issues are critical issues in counties.  This session was an opportunity to learn more about the effort and share what is happening in participants’ counties and what type of information and assistance would be helpful to counties wishing to engage in an effort to reduce the number of individuals with mental illness in jails. Commissioner Mary Ann Borgeson from Douglas County, Neb. introduced the session.  Mr. Matthew Chase, Executive Director of the National Association of Counties and Mr. Pat Fleming, retired Director of Behavioral Health Services in Salt Lake County, Utah presented at the session. 

Key Takeaways:

  • While there are numerous national, state and local organizations that have worked on the issue of mental illness and jails for decades, far fewer state and local elected officials have been engaged in these efforts.  This collaborative effort is an opportunity to create a safe environment for counties and states to work together to reduce the number of individuals with mental illness in jails.

  • The Stepping Up Initiative, a national initiative to reduce the number of individuals with mental illness in jails, will kick off with a Call to Actio...

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3 days ago | 0

Forum Recap: Behavioral Health and Justice: Working Together, Looking Ahead


The connection between behavioral health and justice systems is strong: An estimated 2 million people with serious mental illnesses are booked into county jails each year and estimates are that almost three-quarters of inmates with serious mental illnesses have co-occurring substance use disorders. Justice and behavioral health systems must collaborate and communicate to effectively treat this population. This session discussed the current state of behavioral health and justice, examined how county agencies are currently working to tackle this issue, and offered insights into how these agencies can improve their efforts in the future. 

Speakers in this session included Former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy, Co-Founder of One Mind for Research and Founder of Kennedy Forum and Hon. Steve Leifman, Associate Administrative Judge in the Miami-Dade County Court Criminal Division and Special Advisor on Criminal Justice and Mental Health for the Supreme Court of Florida. The session was moderated by Ms. Pat Ryan, Former Executive Director of the California Mental Health Directors Association (CMHDA). 

Key takeaways from the session include:

  • An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Judge Leifman discussed a study of the cost of mental illness to...

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3 days ago | 0

Forum Recap: Emergency Management: How to Pay for a Disaster

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Public Assistance (PA) program helps states and counties pay for a presidentially declared disaster.  The policies that accompany the use of these funds are complicated and varied, and many PA recipients are being deobligated by FEMA due to accounting issues identified by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General.  Some jurisdictions have been asked to “pay back” or return PA funding due to accounting and procurement errors.  Elected officials and emergency managers will learn about common pitfalls to avoid and the resources available to avoid FEMA deobligation.

Key points:
How to avoid deobligation


  1. Use competitive procurement processes

  2. Have written procurement policies

  3. Carefully document procurement process

  4. Publically advertise goods or services

  5. Use local cooperative buying agreements if they have been properly procured

Insurance: Prior to applying for Public Assistance, you must maximize your insurance benefits, also FEMA will help with legal fees and advice if your County decides to take their insurance company.

Force Account Labor:Counties should be mindful of how they’re accounting for what they spent and if they’re saving money along the way, even in emergency situations.  Many applications lack good documentation of how much equipment was used, how long it was used, and the cost of...

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4 days ago | 0

Forum Recap: Adressing Racial and Ethnic Disparities and Social Determinants of Health


NACo’s Forum on Optimizing Health, Justice and Public Safety opened with two concurrent sessions, one of which focused on “Addressing Racial and Ethnic Disparities and Social Determinants of Health when Integrating County Health and Justice Systems.”  The session was moderated by Hon. Joan Garner, Commissioner, Fulton County, Ga.; with James Bell, Founder and Executive Director of the W. Haywood Burns Institute, speaking about racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system, and Professor Elizabeth A. Baker, PhD, MPH, Professor and Chair, Behavioral Science and Health Education, Saint Louis University College for Public Health and Social Justice, discussing social determinants of health.

Social determinants of health include factors such as unemployment, educational attainment, eating habits and physical environment, and play a critical role in health outcomes, while racial and ethnic disparities are evident in the rates at which minorities are involved in the justice system.  As the local safety net for health and social services, enforcers of the law and the entities responsible for policy making and programming decisions, counties are in a unique position to impact individual and community health and safety, in particular by...

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4 days ago | 0

Introduction to Connected and Automated Vehicles

Written by Alix Kashdan, Community and Economic Development Intern

Counties are exploring connected and autonomous vehicle technologies to optimize driving safety and efficiency. Source: Shutterstock.

Driving is an integral part of daily life for millions of people in the United States.  In 2009, over 119 million people used a privately-owned vehicle to commute to work, and in 2011 there were 212 million licensed drivers in the U.S.  While a common activity, many concerns are associated with driving, such as pollution, accidents and congested roads.  Cars and trucks produce almost one-fifth of all U.S. emissions; the U.S. experienced over 5.5 million crashes in 2013 alone; and in 2011, the average commuter spent a total of 38 hours in traffic jams.  Many of these incidents occur on county-owned infrastructure; counties build and maintain 45 percent of public roads and over 230,000 bridges in the United States.   Researchers interested in improving the experience of driving are increasingly focusing on automated and connected vehicles, which boast new technologies that can optimize driving safety and efficiency.

Connected vehiclesuse wireless technology such as internet and GPS to communicate with other vehicles and infrastructure.  These vehicles send and receive data, and use the information from other connected vehicles to ...

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4 days ago | 0

​Honolulu Light Rail Project Speeds Ahead

Written by Alix Kashdan, Community and Economic Development Intern

Honolulu, Hawaii is building a new elevated light rail that will open in 2019. Source: Rail Presentation, Chair Martin.

From December 3-6, 2014, county officials from across the country met in Maui County, Hawaii for NACo’s 2014 Transportation and Infrastructure Symposium.  The event highlighted innovative county-led projects, trends in global freight movement, new vehicle technologies and creative financing strategies for infrastructure initiatives.  Hon. Ernest Martin, Chair of the Honolulu City and County Council, spoke to the symposium’s attendees about one of Honolulu’s burgeoning infrastructure projects: a new, elevated light rail system (Chair Martin’s presentation is available here).

The need for additional transportation options in Honolulu, a consolidated city-county, stems from the fact that the region is one of the most densely populated areas in the United States.  Honolulu County has a population of over 983,000 and the city of Honolulu has a population density of about 5,570 people per square mile (denser than cities like Detroit, Mich., Atlanta, Ga. and Las Vegas, Nev.).  Given these population numbers, it is not surprising that Honolulu has some of the worst traffic in the U.S.; drivers there spend an average 58 hours per year in traffic, and in 2013 it earned the second spoton the list of the c...

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6 days ago | 0

(NACo Podcasts) Improving County Health Through Community Dialogue


In 2014, NACo in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, held Community Dialogues in six counties across the country. In this week’s episode listen to county elected officials and other county leaders from those six counties discussing the Community Dialogue held in their community.

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10 days ago | 0