Media Affairs County of Orange Honored With Three State Awards
(Santa Ana) – A handbook for opening a child care center, mentors for children and teens with emotional and/or behavioral problems, and an effort to keep first-time juvenile offenders from repeating their mistakes are three County of Orange programs honored as the most innovative and creative in the state. Only 17 percent of the 162 entries from 33 counties were honored as 2000 Challenge or Merit Award winners.
The California State Association of Counties' (CSAC) annual statewide competition selected the Social Services Agency's (SSA) "The Process of Starting a Child Care Center or Large Family Care Home in Orange County: A Handbook for Beginners," as a Challenge Award winner. The Health Care Agency's (HCA) "Project Together" and the Probation Department's "8% Early Intervention Program," were both selected as Merit Award winners.
"Leadership, innovation, collaboration, creativity, resourcefulness and effectiveness have made these County programs winners," said Steven Szalay, Executive Director, CSAC.
The SSA "…Handbook for Beginners" assists prospective providers of child care centers or large family child care homes with planning and development information specific to Orange County. After contracting with Community Planning Associates (CPA), a list of 5,000 tasks required to develop a child care center was compiled. Extensive research in each of Orange County's 33 cities (now 34) was conducted and the user-friendly product was complete in May 2000.
"Project Together" works to match responsible adult volunteers with a child or teen in mental health treatment. Mentors, acting as teachers, tutors and guides, serve two to four hours per week for six months with a child/teen. Before 'Project Together" was implemented 16 years ago, many children and teens were remaining in mental health treatment for years with little or no change in behavioral and social functioning. Since then, studies show that children and teens can overcome their adversity with the positive influence of a committed mentor in their life.
In the mid-1980s, the "8% Early Intervention Program" evolved when studies of 6,000 young first-time criminal offenders showed that 8-10 percent of the youths accounted for 55 percent of the repeat offenses in Orange County. Aided by the National Institute of Corrections and Temple University, the Probation Department developed a program to focus on the repeat offender population, specifically first-time juveniles under age 15 and their families. Later, a similar program was established for older youth. Currently, more than 300 teenagers are involved in the program with 31 percent fewer probation violations, 43 percent fewer law violations and 26 percent fewer days in custody.
Representatives of the County's award-winning programs will receive their awards in November at the 106th annual CSAC state conference at the Ontario Convention Center in San Bernardino County.
"I am very proud of all the County's programs. To be recognized with a Challenge Award and two Merit Awards is an achievement the entire County can be proud of," said Board of Supervisors Chairman Chuck Smith.