There is no clearer demonstration of this year’s National County Government Month (NCGM) theme — Counties Matter — than the public health emergency we are facing across the country. More than ever, our residents are seeing firsthand the essential functions counties perform.
During the month of April, we have an opportunity to reinforce the message that counties provide indispensable services and help our communities stay healthy and safe.
My term as NACo President has focused on how counties can support older Americans and their caregivers. Because people over 65 are more vulnerable to COVID-19, counties are taking extra precautions to protect them. We should highlight how counties are serving this population by:
- Safely delivering meals through nutrition programs
- Providing support services and resources to caregivers
- Protecting elderly Americans from predatory scams that are escalating in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, and
- Preventing the COVID-19 spread while also implementing creative strategies to protect older Americans from the harm of social isolation.
While many of the NCGM events you planned can no longer take place in person, we encourage you to continue to highlight how your county is keeping your residents safe. There are many ways to show that counties matter — even in the absence of large gatherings and in-person meetings.
With children home from school, NACo’s civic education resources provide opportunities to inform young people about county government and have fun at the same time.
Developed in partnership with iCivics, the “Counties Work” online educational game and the downloadable “My County Works” activity book for young children are great activities individuals can enjoy from their homes.
The game educates students (and adults) about local government functions by letting them run their own county. Along the way, they will learn about the many services provided by county departments while having to balance citizen requests and budgets.
The “My County Works” activity book offers hours of education and entertainment for elementary students. Both resources are free and accessible at NACo.org/iCivics.
Inform residents of how they can help from home and what communities or businesses in your county they can offer aid to. Many volunteer programs are struggling to meet new demands and are modifying their practices to comply with social distancing.
Keep the public informed of what’s happening on the front lines. Stream meetings over your social media outlets and other digital platforms.
Some counties roll out a “County Fact of the Day” or key statistics that represent county departments, such as public heath, public safety, human services and public works. A media resources kit and social media strategies along with many other resources are available at NACo.org/NCGM.
Counties are on the front lines delivering services to our residents, especially during this critical time. NCGM is an opportunity to show gratitude to county employees risking their well-being.
During this challenging time, I am inspired by the countless acts of tremendous leadership and public service counties, parishes and boroughs across the United States are demonstrating every day. Keep up the great work and stay healthy.