National County Government Month (NCGM), held each April, is an annual celebration of county government. Since 1991, the National Association of Counties has encouraged counties to actively promote the services and programs they offer. Counties can schedule activities any time during the month. NCGM is an excellent opportunity for your county to highlight effective county programs and raise public awareness and understanding about the various services provided to the community.
The coronavirus pandemic highlights the importance of county government. Counties are on the front lines protecting our communities from coronavirus and other illnesses that have the potential to become a pandemic. Counties support over 900 hospitals and operate over 1,900 public health departments, which are the ground troops in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak. Local health departments are working to protect public health by communicating with transportation officials, educating health care providers and communicating to the public best practices to reduce the spread of infectious diseases.
If you have questions about National County Government Month, please contact Brian Namey at BNamey@NACo.org or 202.942.4220.
Dear Fellow County Leader,
One of my priorities as NACo President is focused on how we can raise awareness of the roles and responsibilities of counties across America. There is no better time than National County Government Month (NCGM) in April to better educate our citizens on the importance of county government and how we impact their lives.
Now more than ever, our residents are seeing firsthand the essential functions counties perform. We provide critical services to all our residents, beginning at birth and spanning throughout their entire lives.
While we face many challenges, we have much to be proud of. Selfless county officials and frontline employees have demonstrated bold, inspirational leadership and saved countless lives during these extraordinary times.
Whether responding to COVID-19 and other health and economic challenges, strengthening infrastructure, ensuring public safety or building vibrant communities, Counties Matter.
During NCGM, we have an opportunity to reinforce the message that Counties Matter. As we emerge stronger than ever from the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis, now is the time to spotlight your county’s role in achieving successes at the local level.
Under my presidency, the LEAD initiative builds on the core themes of Leadership, Education, Action and Development. NCGM presents a tremendous opportunity to educate the public about how counties provide real support, identifying challenges on the ground and pursuing solutions to address them.
We hope that you will nominate some of your best county initiatives for our Achievement Awards program. This helps us promote your accomplishments and share your proven practices with all NACo members. With my focus on broadband, we would especially welcome any innovative solutions to meeting your county’s broadband challenges. The deadline to apply is March 31. Learn more and apply today at www.NACo.org/AchievementAwards.
While many of the NCGM events you plan may be held virtually this year, we encourage you to continue to showcase how your county is keeping residents healthy and safe. There are many ways to demonstrate that counties matter – even in the absence of in-person events. We invite you to use NACo’s National County Government Month resources to celebrate your accomplishments and highlight how counties help to improve people’s lives every day
The Hon. Gary Moore
Judge/Executive, Boone County, Ky.
National County Government Month (NCGM) is an annual celebration of county government held each April. Since 1991, the National Association of Counties has encouraged our members to actively promote county services and programs. Counties can schedule activities any time during the month. NCGM is an excellent opportunity for your county to highlight effective county programs and raise public awareness and understanding about the various services provided to the community. Here are a few ideas on how to get started:
Establish a Planning Committee
The committee will plan, organize and coordinate all activities related to NCGM. Committee members should include representatives from the county board, administration, school system and each county department. Additionally, a public information officer or county official experienced in media relations should be included. Consider including a county extension service representative. This could be a staff member, 4-H volunteer or 4-H member. All areas of county government and schools should be involved in the planning process.
Decide How Extensive Your Activities Will Be
Plan activities throughout the month or organize just a few featured events. Hold fun, interactive and informative activities to reach different segments of your community, including students, educators, senior citizens, young families, business leaders and community organizations. Activities should be designed to bring residents to county facilities such as the courthouse, parks, public safety building, public health department or a recycling/waste transfer station. Activities can be planned to deploy county officials to locations where residents are already assembled. Suggestions for activities such as open houses and public tours are described elsewhere in this booklet.
Involve the Media
Be sure members of the local news media are aware of NCGM and the activities your committee has planned. Consider involving a member of the news media in the planning process. Media outreach tips are described elsewhere in this guide. The following pages will provide you and your planning committee several ideas on what to include in your county’s celebration of NCGM.
National County Government Month offers an opportunity to educate residents about county programs, services and responsibilities. It is also an opportunity to promote county priorities. In short, it’s an opportunity to tell the public that Counties Matter.
As part of NCGM, prepare and distribute county fact sheets. Some counties roll out a “County Fact of the Day” or distribute fact sheets representing key county departments, such as public safety, parks and recreation, public works and health. Promote facts and information many residents do not know about but need to know.
Children and Families
How many children, senior citizens or veterans received county services last year?
Does your county support a child mentoring program or local food bank?
How is your county investing in early childhood development?
Emergency Response, Public Safety and Justice
How many trained emergency responders are employed by the county?
How many trained volunteer emergency responders serve the county?
How many emergency calls were responded to last year?
How many bookings were processed at the county jail last year?
What is the daily average jail population?
Health & Hospitals
How many patients were served last year at county hospitals and clinics?
How many health department inspections were conducted last year?
How many vaccinations were administered last year?
How many emergency room visits were made last year?
How many nursing homes are in the county?
How many county residents have health insurance?
How many seniors did your county serve last year?
How does your county support caregivers?
Does your county have programs to assist residents with mobility challenges?
Economy & Employment
How many people are unemployed in the county?
What is the average county wage?
How many residents received direct job training or unemployment services last year?
How many businesses have been added to the county? How many new jobs have they brought in?
How many veterans are in your county?
How does your county serve veterans in your community?
NACo’s online interactive County Explorer tool is an excellent source of data on every county, parish and borough in America. It includes county and state-specific profiles on issues such as transportation infrastructure, public lands and forest management, community development and others.
A great way to educate residents about county services is inviting them to visit county facilities for an open house or public tour. While maintaining social distancing prevents in-person conveninings, use technology to open your county to the public.
Offer Virtual Tours or Meetings
Be sure to keep the public informed of what’s happening on the front lines. Stream meetings over your social media outlets and other digital platforms or offer virtual tours of meeting spaces, showing social distancing practices.
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 so residents are able to volunteer safely.
Be sure to include schools in your National County Government Month activities to enable students to begin learning about county government.
Counties Work online game and My County Works activity book
With many children home from school, NACo’s civic education resources provide perfect 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.
Contact: Lindsey Maggard, email@example.com, 202.661.8824
In an effort to bolster civic education and educate communities on the role of county government, the National Association of Counties (NACo) is launching the “I Love My County Because” art contest in conjunction with National County Government Month.
NACo and county leaders are spreading the word about county roles and responsibilities, which are often unknown or misunderstood. By inviting children and young adults ages 18 and under to create artwork for the 2021-2022 “Counties Matter” calendar, NACo hopes to raise awareness about programs and services that impact people’s lives every day.
Winning artwork will be featured in an 18-month NACo calendar, which will be distributed to NACo members nationwide. Winners will also be announced in NACo’s flagship publication, County News, and their artwork will be displayed at NACo’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Before submitting any artwork for consideration, students must make sure that they are eligible and able to adhere to all of the competition guidelines.
Deadline and submission requirements
National County Government Month is an ideal time to discuss national policy issues affecting county government with members of Congress who represent your county.
During NCGM, schedule a call with your congressional representative(s) or key staff in your congressional district office. Use the call to explain the great challenges facing your county and how Congress can help.
Many important issues are being debated nationally that affect counties. Be prepared with facts and information about how specific federal issues affect your county. Know where your member of Congress stands on important issues and on which committees he or she serves. Your message should be focused, compelling and relevant. To find out about NACo’s 2020 Legislative Priorities and obtain fact sheets on current national issues important to counties, visit the advocacy section of the website.
Contact: Mark Ritacco, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202.942.4240
Contact: Lindsey Maggard, email@example.com, 202.661.8824
This is your one-stop online shop for NCGM design templates to produce your county’s own posters, flyers, banners, proclamations and buttons.
These additions are sure to enhance the festive atmosphere of your NCGM events. Each template is specially designed for the 2020 theme, “Counties Matter.” Each template contains the NACo and NCGM logos. Plenty of space is available for you to add your county’s seal or unique county government month slogan or message. If you find something you want to use, download the file and add your county’s local touch.
The NACo Media Relations Guide for Counties contains helpful tips on speaking with reporters, writing news releases, planning press conferences, and much more.
Media Relations Strategies
Careful planning is essential to maximize public awareness of National County Government Month activities and the county services and programs you are highlighting. Here are effective ways to help secure positive news media coverage.
Educate the Media
Inform local reporters, editors and broadcasters early and often about NCGM and your county’s plans to celebrate it.
Plan to make News
Coordinate newsworthy events or announcements. You can launch new initiatives, announce plans for new programs or recognize county employees for their excellent public service. Keep in mind that newspapers seek in-depth facts, television stations want good visuals and radio reporters want snappy sounds bites. All reporters seek good stories. They want access to knowledgeable and articulate sources to make their stories interesting and informative.
Publish a Calendar of Events
Publish a calendar of NCGM events on your county’s website. Ask the local newspapers to publish the calendar. Ask the local television, cable and radio stations to air public service announcements about county services or events.
Write Media Advisories
Prepare and send media notices well in advance for specific NCGM events, such as the open house, tour of the hospital or visit to a local school. Describe who, what, where, when and why. Make it newsworthy.
Write News Releases
Have news releases ready to distribute to the media the day of special NCGM events. Highlight what’s new, beneficial and cost-effective. Use lively, concise quotes from appropriate county officials. Provide contact information.
Take Your Message to the Media
Do not assume the news media will cover your events or announcements. Ask for a meeting with the newspaper’s editorial board; volunteer to stop by the television station for an interview; be an in-studio guest on a local radio program. Be accessible, proactive and enthusiastic about county government and the services provided to the community.
INSERT YOUR COUNTY’S LETTERHEAD
CONTACT: Bea Candid
Able County to Celebrate National County Government Month
Everytown, USA (April 1, 2021) — Able County will celebrate National County Government Month (NCGM) during the month of April to showcase how the county achieves healthy, safe and vibrant communities.
The theme for this year’s celebration of NCGM is “Counties Matter,” demonstrating how counties help to improve people’s lives every day, especially for local government workers on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic.
New to this year’s NCGM celebration is NACo’s “I Love My County Because” art contest. This is an opportunity for children and young adults ages 18 and under to create artwork during NCGM for NACo’s 2021-2022 “Counties Matter” calendar. For a full list of eligibility criteria, rules and submission guidelines, visit www.naco.org/ncgm.
Featured NCGM events include virtual tours of Able County’s government center and how we provide essential services for our residents. Commissioners and department heads will showcase housing centers and hospitals throughout the month of April. The popular “Able County Family Day” will be held virtually on XXX, 2021, which will showcase essential county programs and resources.
“Able County is proud of the programs and services we provide to our residents,” said Board Chair Tim Timmons. “Our efforts combined with efforts of counties across the country are helping American communities respond to public health needs. I encourage all county residents to participate in National County Government Month outreach events to learn how the county can assist you and your loved ones.”
Since 1991 the National Association of Counties (NACo) has encouraged counties across the country to raise public awareness and understanding about the roles and responsibilities of counties.
Able County NCGM public events include:
A full listing of NCGM events is available at: www.ablecounty.gov.
The emergence of social media in recent years provides tremendous opportunities to promote your NCGM events. If you already have a Facebook or Twitter account, use it to promote county government month activities. Coordinate a county government month “social media team” to plan social media outreach efforts.
Sample Social Media Posts for COVID-19
- Honoring our 3.6 million #county employees through #WeAreCounties – putting a face on the front lines of #COVID-19 pandemic response. #WeAreCounties www.wearecounties.org
- Thank you to America's 3.6 million #county employees on the front lines of the nation's response to the #COVID19 pandemic #WeAreCounties www.wearecounties.org https://youtu.be/W8ghDyxTt7Y
Sample Social Media Posts
- April is National #County Government Month and this year's theme is "Counties Matter." [INSERT COUNTY SPECIFIC INFO TO HIGHLIGHT] #NCGM
- To celebrate National County Government Month, check out the @NACoTweets "My County Works" activity book for elementary students, created in partnership with @icivics. Download your copy today #NCGM #CountiesWork http://www.naco.org/icivics
- To celebrate National County Government Month, play the @NACoTweets @iCivics #CountiesWork game, an online game where anyone can simulate the important roles and functions of #county leaders www.NACo.org/iCivics #TeachLocal #NCGM #CountiesMatter
- #Counties deliver vital services to residents - [INSERT SPECIFIC COUNTY INFO TO HIGHLIGHT] #NCGM #CountiesMatter
- #CountiesMatter: #Counties serve nearly every American every day. Urban, suburban and rural — counties work to keep our communities healthy, safe and vibrant. To learn more, visit www.NACo.org/CountiesMatter #NCGM
- #CountiesMatter: #Counties employ 3.6 million people and serve 314 million residents. To learn more, visit www.NACo.org/CountiesMatter #NCGM
- #CountiesMatter: #Counties own and maintain 46% of our nation's road miles and 38% of our nation's bridges, and are involved in 78% of public transport systems and the operation of 34% of public airports. To learn more, visit www.NACo.org/CountiesMatter #NCGM
- #CountiesMatter: #Counties are involved in promoting public health through 1,943 local health departments, and support over 900 hospitals with more than 58,000 beds. To learn more, visit www.NACo.org/CountiesMatter #NCGM
- #CountiesMatter: #Counties operate 91% of all local jails and invest over $35B in 3,041 police and sheriffs' departments and nearly $93B total in justice and public safety services, including 911 call centers. To learn more, visit www.NACo.org/CountiesMatter #NCGM
- Submit your artwork today for NACo’s “I Love My County Because” art contest- a newly launched addition to National County Government Month #NCGM www.naco.org/ncgm
- Students across the country are invited to participate in the “I Love My County Because” art contest! Winning artwork will be featured in a NACo calendar and at the NACo headquarters in Washington, D.C. #ncgm www.naco.org/ncgm
- Get the students in your county engaged in National County Government Month! Submit your artwork for consideration for our “I Love My County Because” art contest today at www.naco.org/ncgm #ncgm
Social Media Graphics
Contact: Paul Guequierre, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202.942.4271
The National Association of Counties has many programs and initiatives available to assist counties.
Below is a snapshot of some of NACo’s programs designed to help counties thrive. If your county participates in any of these programs, National County Government Month is an excellent opportunity to inform the public about them. If your county does not participate in any of these programs, consider involving your county in one or more of NACo’s programs and announce it during NCGM.
Coronavirus Resources for Counties
During this critical and unprecedented time, NACo is focused on advocating for the needs of counties at the federal level, disseminating useful information to our members, and facilitating the exchange of effective strategies and approaches. We have launched www.NACo.org/coronavirus to highlight key resources for counties.
Resilient Economies and Communities
To help counties implement innovative and effective local programs, NACo provides members with information, trainings and assistance to engage counties and multi-sector partners bound by a common interest in growing stronger, more competitive, more equitable counties and communities. The Resilient Economies and Communities practice area supports county leaders seeking to develop and implement creative, innovative, locally driven strategies that will foster economic growth and ensure long-term county resiliency.
Topics within this practice area include:
- Economic opportunity and diversification
- Entrepreneurship and small business development
- Workforce development
- Infrastructure and transportation investments
- Land use planning
- Water resource protection and restoration
- Renewable energy planning, development and management
- Disaster mitigation, preparedness and response, and
- Eco-efficient purchasing and facility management.
Contact: Alejandra Montoya-Boyer, email@example.com, 202.661.8803
Prescription, Health and Dental Discount Program
The National Association of Counties (NACo) Live Healthy Prescription, Health & Dental Discount Program is a NO-COST program available to all member counties. It provides relief to uninsured and underinsured Americans who face growing health costs offering three ways to save:
- Prescription Drug Discount Card - Provides average savings of 30 percent* for residents and their pets, along with instant rebates on 69 common prescriptions
- Health Discount Program - Includes a 24/7 telemedicine service and access to discounts on vision care, LASIK & PRK vision procedures, hearing aids & screenings, prepaid lab work, prepaid diagnostic imaging and diabetic supplies for $5.95/month or $59/year for individuals; $7.95/month or $69/year for families*
- Dental Discount Program - Discounts on most dental procedures, including check-ups, cleanings, x-rays, fillings, root canals, extractions and dentures for $5.95/month or $59/year for individuals; $7.95/month or $69/year for families*
- MinuteClinic Savings - Save 10% (up to $10) at the medical walk-in clinic located in select CVS Pharmacy and Target Stores using the Live Healthy Prescription Discount Card
Since 2004, nearly 1,300 counties, parishes and boroughs joined, saving residents over $715 million over 51 million prescriptions. The Live Healthy Program is NOT insurance.
NACo provides all marketing resources AT NO COST to participating counties through a self-service portal. Access digital and printed resources on demand to promote the program to the residents. County Live Healthy contacts have been given access to the self-service portal.
Contact: NACo Membership Team, LiveHealthy@naco.org, 202.661.8832
*Prescription savings may vary by drug and pharmacy; discounts are only available at participating pharmacies. Health and dental discounts are subject to coverage and are available in every state except Washington. MinuteClinic discounts are available in 33 states and the District of Columbia
Smart Justice Initiative
The Smart Justice Initiative aims to build knowledge and capacity for successful justice policies and practices among the nation’s counties and provide a closer examination of the need for intergovernmental collaboration and public private partnerships in an effort to create safer communities and invest taxpayer resources more effectively. Issues include pre-trial services, post-release service coordination, justice and mental health collaboration, supportive housing, and employment.
Contact: Nastassia Walsh, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202.942.4289
Stepping Up Initiative
In May 2015, NACo, the Council of State Governments Justice Center and the American Psychiatric Association Foundation launched Stepping Up: A National Initiative to Reduce the Number of People with Mental Illnesses in Jails. Since then, more than 500 counties have joined the initiative.
Stepping Up participants receive a resources toolkit to assist with efforts, including webinars, networking calls, online tools, peer exchanges, conference workshops and a comprehensive resource library. Find out more and join the initiative at www.StepUpTogether.org.
Contact: Nastassia Walsh, email@example.com, 202.942.4289
Healthy Counties Initiative
NACo launched the Healthy Counties Initiative in 2011 to enhance public-private partnerships in local health delivery, improve individual and community health and assist counties in implementing federal health reform. The initiative engages county officials and private sector partners to:
- Fulfill a leadership role in implementing health reform at the county level
- Enhance coverage, access to and coordination of health care for vulnerable populations in the community, including health services in hospitals, community health centers and county jails, while focusing on cost-containment strategies
- Promote community public health, prevention and wellness programs, including increased physical activity and healthy eating
- Participate in the national transition to health information technology and telemedicine, and
- Offer information, ideas and solutions for county government employee and retiree health benefits and programs.
Contact: Nastassia Walsh, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202.942.4289
Nationwide Retirement Solutions
NACo’s Defined Contribution and Retirement Services Program offers county employees a voluntary, tax-deferred savings opportunity to supplement employer-sponsored retirement plans. It also offers a 401(a) match and stand-alone defined contribution plans. Since NACo’s partnership with Nationwide began, we’ve helped more than 1.5 million county employees and retirees save billions of dollars for retirement.
Tell Us About Your Program
Thank you for your interest in celebrating National County Government Month! NACo wants to know what activities and programs you have planned so we can share this information with other counties to help them have successful NCGM celebrations. Please use the online form on the NACo website or e-mail your activities to Lindsey Maggard at email@example.com. Be sure to send NACo your proclamations, photos and videos of your county’s celebrations. Those files can be sent directly to Lindsey Maggard.
Thank you for your commitment to county government!