Chesterfield County has received two achievement awards from the Virginia Association of Counties (VACo). The VACo Achievement Awards is a competitive program open to...

Chesterfield County has received two achievement awards from the Virginia Association of Counties (VACo). The VACo Achievement Awards is a competitive program open to local government members of the association. Held annually, it recognizes local government programs in awards criteria that include innovation, cooperation, and model practices. Chesterfield County’s winning programs follow.

Library as Lifeboat: ALibrary and Emergency Management Partnership – Prior to 2011, Chesterfield County employed a standard emergency management approach that placed the primary responsibility for the community’s emergency response on the police, sheriff, and fire departments, on parks and recreation, and on general services. While not a first responder or a department with skill and equipment in debris cleanup, in 2011, during Hurricane Irene, Chesterfield County Public Library, or CCPL, staff worked with emergency management personnel to shelter displaced daytime residents, distribute meals, and disseminate disaster information and updates to residents. This was so successful that CCPL has emerged as a key player in the local response to emergency planning in order to better serve citizens in a disaster.

Same Day Access Program – Mental Health Support Services’ program has a more customer-friendly approach to service intake. The program is a systemic model that, when fully implemented, enables individuals to get immediate access to a behavioral health intake and assessment for mental health and substance use disorder services. They are able to be more engaged in their treatment, get symptom relief sooner, and access services on their time frames, not the organization’s. Each individual’s case is reviewed and revised based on case load management and client length of stay, instituting centralized scheduling and collaborative documentation, and reorganizing the intake and assessment processes and staffing.

This year, there were a total of 29 winners out of 91 submission recognizing model local government programs. Chesterfield County tops the all-time Achievement Awards list with 22. Loudoun County is second with 18, while Henrico County is third with 17. Arlington County, King George County, Lancaster County, Middlesex County and Warren County were first-time winners this year.

“We are excited to announce the 2016 winners, and I want to thank all who participated,” said Dean Lynch, VACo executive director. “This is the 14th year of the Achievement Awards Program, and we couldn’t be more proud of the innovative work done by our member counties. It seems we are faced with more complex challenges every year, but Virginia’s counties have found creative ways to overcome them.”