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Department of Health Services

For Immediate Release

ACCESS Sonoma County Receives $1 Million Hewlett Foundation Grant

Santa Rosa,CA | December 13, 2018

The Sonoma County safety net departments accepted a $1 million grant to continue advancing the work of the Accessing Coordinated Care and Empowering Self-Sufficiency (ACCESS) Sonoma County initiative from the Hewlett Foundation this week.

The basis of ACCESS relies on close coordination between the safety net departments—Health Services, Human Services, Community Development Commission, Probation, and Child Support Services and criminal justice partners—to holistically support clients with complex needs, and ultimately improve their health and economic stability.

ACCESS, which has the goal of identifying the most vulnerable residents in the community—those experiencing ongoing unemployment, homelessness and housing insecurity, behavioral health and substance use issues, and who also may receive services that intersect with agencies in the criminal justice system—and helps them receive the support they need.

“In April of 2017, the Board of Supervisors directed the departments with shared clients to strengthen the County’s safety net services to help our highest need residents achieve recovery and self-sufficiency,” said Sonoma County Third District Supervisor Shirlee Zane.

Karen Fies, Director of the Sonoma County Human Services Department said she was grateful the Board continued making the ACCESS initiative a priority by including it the County recovery plan finalized in September in response to last year’s wildfires.

“We appreciate the support of the Board of Supervisors on this project. It is important that County departments responsible for the health and well-being of our community have the tools and technology to work together for the betterment of residents,” said Fies.

The safety net departments began addressing the problem by concurrently assembling a flexible, interdepartmental multidisciplinary team and developing a comprehensive data-sharing support system for enhanced care coordination.

“Given Sonoma County’s housing crisis, it is imperative we link our safety net services as a means to provide coordinated assistance to individuals experiencing poverty and housing instability,” said Margaret Van Vliet, Executive Director of the Sonoma County Community Development Commission.

ACCESS Sonoma County is currently working with IBM to integrate its safety net systems via a hub that enables case workers, clinicians, housing staff, probation officers and others across various departments to view all services a client is receiving. This holistic view facilitates better data sharing leading to enhanced coordinated care and outcomes.

The mobile aspect of this system will allow the County and community workers to work with clients out in the field, and more importantly, it will allow the client the ability to actively participate in their care plan using technology to enable place-based participation.

The funds from the Hewlett Foundation grant will be used to continue the ongoing work ACCESS Sonoma County has been doing with IBM, specifically to build-out its integrated hub by adding systems from other agencies and eventually community partners who are critical to holistic care.

The anticipated benefits of ACCESS Sonoma County is improved health and well-being for residents. The implications of these initial successes demonstrate more equitable, effective and efficient approaches to understand and address critical needs of residents.

“This programming allows safety net departments to share information on mutual clients, increasing the likelihood of coordinating services for residents who need it most and improving outcomes for these people,” said David Koch, Chief Probation Officer of the Sonoma County Probation Department.

Recent national and state trends have shown the need for services to focus on the coordination and integration of service delivery across safety net agencies. A significant factor driving both cost and inefficiency is the siloed and fragmented way in which many safety net agencies currently deliver services.

“A coordinated approach focusing holistically on all of the needs of an individual could yield better outcomes for those being served,” said DHS Director Barbie Robinson whose department leads ACCESS. “Coordinating so many different services is challenging; however, we are working together toward solutions that both strengthens safety net systems and reduces costs.”