By: Brett Williams, Sonoma County DCSS
Every year the Financial Times Intelligent Business, a prominent international publication, recognizes a company that makes a groundbreaking change in business operations by overcoming legal and commercial challenges. The prestigious award is sought after by many successful companies from around the world, and up until 2019, was only given to a candidate from the private sector. In late 2019, Sonoma County was honored with the Financial Times Intelligent Business Award for its innovative project: Accessing Coordinated Care to Enable Self-Sufficiency (ACCESS). ACCESS was a joint effort from the Safety Net Collaborative departments consisting of Sonoma County Department of Child Support Services (Sonoma County DCSS), Health Services, Human Services, Community Development Commission, Probation, and criminal justice organizations.
The award recognized Sonoma County’s goals to serve people experiencing ongoing unemployment, homelessness, housing insecurity, behavioral health and substance use issues, and/or receiving services that intersect with agencies in the criminal justice system. As a result, Sonoma County is re-shaping the delivery of services to its most vulnerable residents and improving their health and economic situations.
Sonoma County DCSS was an active contributor to the ACCESS initiative from inception, which started in 2016 before the 2017 Sonoma Complex Fires. These natural disasters and the recovery period tested the county’s ability to provide services to its most vulnerable residents. Since then, with the help of the Safety Net Collaborative departments and information technology company International Business Machines (IBM), the initiative has grown into an interdepartmental multi-disciplinary team.
In addition to the Financial Times Intelligent Business Award, awards for ACCESS Sonoma have included the IBM Watson Health Advantage Award and the 2019 Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties. The next step for Sonoma County DCSS is to move to the next developmental phase of the ACCESS initiative so that they can better serve the residents of the county. Congratulations on this visionary work, Sonoma County!