2020 National County Government Month: Counties Matter
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,
Counties provide critical services to all our residents, from the time they are born to the time they grow old. County governments are uniquely positioned to provide real support, identifying challenges on the ground and pursuing innovative solutions to address them.
While no two counties are exactly the same, we know that Counties Matter. Whether it be through investments in community health, infrastructure and transportation or justice and public safety, county leaders are on the front lines of delivering vital services to our residents.
There is no clearer demonstration of this year’s National County Government Month than the public health emergency we are facing across the country. Now 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 senior nutrition programs
- Providing in-home 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.
We hope that you’ll nominate some of your best county innovations for our annual Achievement Awards so we can promote your successes and share your best practices with all NACo members. The deadline to apply is April 13, and Achievement Award winners will be announced in May, in time for you to be recognized at NACo’s Annual Conference in Orange County (Orlando), Florida, July 17 – 20. Apply today at www.NACo.org/AchievementAwards.
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 healthy and safe. There are many ways to show that counties matter – even in the absence of large gatherings and in-person meetings. Use National County Government Month to showcase your accomplishments and highlight how counties help to improve people’s lives every day
The Hon. Mary Ann Borgeson
Commissioner, Douglas County, Neb.
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?
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
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: Deborah Cox, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202.942.4286
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, 2020) — 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.
Featured NCGM events include public tours of Able County’s new area agency on aging. Commissioners and department heads will visit childcare centers and hospitals throughout the month of April. The popular “Able County Family Day” will be held on xxx, 2020, which will showcase essential county programs and services.
“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 thrive. I encourage all county residents to take advantage of 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
- #Counties are on the frontlines in addressing the #COVID19 pandemic. Visit www.NACo.org/coronavirus to learn more #CountiesMatter #NCGM
- 40,000 #county elected officials, nearly 1,000 county-supported hospitals and 1,900 local public health authorities are addressing the issues of #COVID19 preparedness, mitigation and response. Learn more at http://www.NACo.org/coronavirus #CountiesMatter #NCGM
- With many children are home due to #COVID19, now is a great time to use @NACoTweets @iCivics #CountiesWork activity book and online game to teach about the important roles and functions of #county leaders http://www.NACo.org/iCivics #CountiesMatter #NCGM
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
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 visioning 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 NACo Live Healthy Prescription, Dental & Health Discount Program provides relief to uninsured and underinsured Americans who face high prescription, health and dental costs. The program is free to NACo member counties and has provided over $690 million in savings to county residents across the country since 2004. The program includes discounts on prescriptions, vision care, LASIK & PRK vision procedures, hearing aids & screenings, prepaid lab work, prepaid diagnostic imaging, diabetic supplies and dental care.
Benefits to Counties and Residents
- Everyone is accepted
- Individual prescription savings of up to 75 percent and overall average savings of 24 percent
- Savings of 15 – 70% for residents on the additional health services
- A network of 68,000+ pharmacies nationwide that accept the discount card, including both local pharmacies and national chains
- 110,000 dentists, 54,000 optometrists and 8,000 ophthalmologists accept the discount card nationally
- Save 15% to 50% on most dental procedures
The program is not insurance. The program is FREE for member counties and affordable for residents:
- Prescription Drug Discount Card: Free for Residents
- Medical & Dental Discount Programs: Low monthly or annual fees apply
To sign up and get more information please visit www.naco.org/health.
Contact: John Losh, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202.661.8832
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, email@example.com, 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, firstname.lastname@example.org, 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, email@example.com, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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!