Santa Cruz County’s Multi-Agency Approach to Results Count

Posted July 20, 2022
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
The image depicts an outdoor, aerial view of a commercial district within Santa Cruz County, California.

The gov­ern­ment of San­ta Cruz Coun­ty, Cal­i­for­nia, has start­ed using Results Count® — the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s approach to lead­er­ship devel­op­ment — as a frame­work for accel­er­at­ing the well-being of the county’s res­i­dents, par­tic­u­lar­ly groups who face the great­est bar­ri­ers to suc­cess. Although Results Count has been embraced by many non­prof­it orga­ni­za­tions and indi­vid­ual pub­lic agen­cies, the Coun­ty of San­ta Cruz is work­ing com­pre­hen­sive­ly to align the work sev­er­al agen­cies toward a com­mon goal.

Results Count is help­ing us put a more sol­id frame­work around the county’s strate­gic plan and giv­ing us a clear­er path to achiev­ing equi­table results,” says Sven Stafford, prin­ci­pal admin­is­tra­tive ana­lyst for the Coun­ty of San­ta Cruz. We know we need to be col­lab­o­ra­tive and more aligned, and Results Count is help­ing to move this work forward.”

Break­ing Through Silos

As part of its strate­gic plan­ning, the Coun­ty of San­ta Cruz already had estab­lished a fun­da­men­tal com­po­nent of any Results Count pro­gram: a long-term pop­u­la­tion-lev­el result that serves as a call-to-action and guides the work. Adopt­ed by the county’s gov­ern­ing Board of Super­vi­sors, the call-to-action states: San­ta Cruz Coun­ty is a healthy, safe and more afford­able com­mu­ni­ty that is cul­tur­al­ly diverse, eco­nom­i­cal­ly inclu­sive and envi­ron­men­tal­ly vibrant.”

Impressed by the ways the county’s Pro­ba­tion Depart­ment uses Results Count skills and tools to make mea­sur­able dif­fer­ences on behalf of the peo­ple it serves — such as part­ner­ing with school dis­tricts to increase high school grad­u­a­tion rates for stu­dents on pro­ba­tion — the Coun­ty Admin­is­tra­tive Office brought togeth­er a high-lev­el inter­a­gency group to strength­en imple­men­ta­tion of the call-to-action.

Our agen­cies some­times work in silos because they’ve got dif­fer­ent ordi­nances and laws that gov­ern their indi­vid­ual work,” says Stafford. To real­ly meet the needs of the res­i­dents of San­ta Cruz Coun­ty, our work needs to be aligned to cre­ate equi­table oppor­tu­ni­ties and change systems.”

Dig­ging Deeper

Coun­ty lead­ers have com­plet­ed three of sev­en sem­i­nars where they are prac­tic­ing and apply­ing Results Count tools, skills and com­pe­ten­cies. Sem­i­nar top­ics include:

All the coun­ty lead­ers have iden­ti­fied a spe­cif­ic equi­ty-focused result relat­ed to the larg­er call-to-action. For exam­ple, the new­ly estab­lished Pub­lic Defender’s Office decid­ed to focus on ensur­ing that Lati­no men ages 18 to 35 who have law enforce­ment con­tact and are eli­gi­ble for pub­lic defend­er ser­vices receive legal rep­re­sen­ta­tion before their first court date.

Dur­ing the first 72 hours of incar­cer­a­tion, peo­ple with­out resources and legal rep­re­sen­ta­tion can lose their jobs, their chil­dren and even their hous­ing. Stud­ies have shown, how­ev­er, that ear­ly rep­re­sen­ta­tion leads to decreased recidi­vism and incar­cer­a­tion, as well as increased access to hous­ing and employ­ment ben­e­fits and treat­ment for men­tal ill­ness and sub­stance use disorders.

Look­ing Ahead

In addi­tion to com­plet­ing the series of Results Count sem­i­nars, next steps for coun­ty lead­ers include work­ing with their own staff to refine per­for­mance mea­sures for their results and con­nect­ing their strate­gies with those of oth­er agen­cies in ways that con­tribute to the coun­ty­wide goal.

A crit­i­cal step for coun­ty lead­ers will be test­ing the valid­i­ty of their analy­ses and strate­gies with the groups and com­mu­ni­ties they seek to serve. Pub­lic sys­tems often oper­ate in their own bub­ble, inde­pen­dent­ly cre­at­ing pro­grams for’ peo­ple but not with’ them,” says Shan­da C. Crow­der, a senior asso­ciate in Lead­er­ship Devel­op­ment with the Casey Foun­da­tion. What they don’t do often enough is go to com­mu­ni­ties and say, Here’s the prob­lem. Here’s what we’re think­ing. What do you think?’”

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