Henrico County departments and agencies have earned 24 Achievement Awards from the National Association of Counties (NACo) for innovative programs, with two also recognized with a Best in Category honor. Henrico has earned 628 NACo awards since 1985.
Henrico’s 24 awards, which stemmed from 28 entries, are the most of any county in Virginia for the 13th consecutive year and the seventh most nationally, behind Maricopa County, Ariz.; Montgomery County, Md.; Miami-Dade County, Fla.; San Bernardino County, Calif.; San Diego County, Calif.; and Los Angeles County, Calif. Those counties have populations between 1 million and 10 million residents; Henrico has about 328,000 residents, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates. Henrico and Montgomery were the only counties to earn multiple Best in Category honors, with two apiece.
Henrico’s award-winning programs are listed below:
Improving Snow Plowing Operations with Mobile GIS
Caring for the Community: Advocate for the Aging
Health Risk Assessments (HRAs): Using Results to Get Results
Making House Calls: Ensuring OSHA Compliance Through Mobile Spirometry
Behavioral Activation Group
Bounce Back from Addiction
Crisis Intervention Team Refresher Training
Early Intervention Autism Clinic
Death Cafés and Bereavement Groups
Interactive Teen Displays at Libbie Mill Library
Night Sky Astronomy
CAD Passport-Accountability & Community Resource Tool
2018-2023 Continuous Improvement Strategy
Community Smoke Alarm Initiative
Feeding a Need for Real-World Experience
“Printing” is More Than Just What You Read
The Academy at Virginia Randolph’s 100 Men Challenge
Art, Reading, Science and Community: From a Tiny Seed a Garden Grows
Maggie Walker Governor’s School: Remaking an Old-School Application Process
Spreading Goodwill Through Books
The Work-Van Project: Students Upgrade Skills and County Vehicles
Video Training for Secure School Testing
In January 2016, and in response to the Opiate Epidemic, Henrico County Sheriff, Michael L. Wade, created and proposed ORBIT, a comprehensive and unique program for opiate addicted inmates. The target population for the ORBIT program is repeat offenders who receive jail sentences of 18 months to 3 years for charges related to larceny and possession of narcotics. The goal of the ORBIT program is to provide extensive treatment with wrap around services that assists inmates in overcoming their addiction and re-entering the community. ORBIT is specifically designed to address the immense and overwhelming control that addiction has over a person. The program uses the authority of the Henrico County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) to maintain control over the inmates for the necessary time for the inmates to gradually regain control over their own lives.
The Henrico County Department of Public Works (DPW) maintains its own secondary road system, and, therefore, is responsible for all its maintenance needs. DPWs snow removal program recently went paperless, using Geographic Information System (GIS) as the system of record for tracking the snow removal efforts and the subsequent issues that arose from infrequent plowing damages. The enhanced system allows for dispatchers to communicate directly with individual foremen for rapid response or other special needs. Additionally, the system provides real-time, visual reference to aid executive and senior staff in decision making. This GIS system was created at virtually no additional cost. The foremen used county issued tablets, smartphones, and ruggedized laptops with GIS functionality enabled by the county’s Enterprise Licensing Agreement with ESRI. Immediate successes included eliminating paper copies, having instant access to statuses of all snow removal equipment and plows, reducing costs associated with traveling out of the office during storms for inspections, tracking downed utility lines and other hazards impacting travel, and providing readily available documentation for risk management damage claims.
Across the nation, the number of individuals over the age of 65 has steadily increased. As a result, the demand for more aging-related services and support has surged. To prepare for this shift, Henrico County created a position to serve this demographic: an Advocate for the Aging. The Advocate for the Aging strives to fulfill the needs of Henrico County’s aging population by enhancing social engagement, wellness, and independence. This role has been a tremendous asset for our aging population, by participating in over 100 community outreach events since 2016, creating 42 educational events with a 50 percent increase in participation from 2016 to 2017, and partnering with over 80 different organizations. Perhaps more intangible, but no less powerful, is the personal impact the program has had on individuals within the Henrico community. From finding a contractor to volunteer his time to remove a dying tree from an older resident’s property to getting two new hearing aids donated to another, the Advocate for the Aging has made a tremendous difference for older people who call Henrico County home.
In the early months of 2016, Henrico County invited permanent general government and schools’ employees to participate in a personal health risk assessment (HRA). This wellness initiative included both an on-site biometric screening and an on-line personal health assessment. Results presented in the aggregate report aided the county in better understanding the collective health risks of the employee population – thus allowing Henrico County to incorporate important and necessary interventions that effectively addressed unhealthy behaviors in the workforce.
To verify the effectiveness of employee wellness programs offered in response to the 2016 aggregate report, employees were again invited to participate in the same HRA process in 2017, which included on-site biometric screenings and on-line personal health assessments. The 2017 aggregate report showed positive changes in employees’ lifestyle behaviors. The result was a decrease in biological age for the collective population, indicating the employee population was functioning well, in relation to their calendar/chronological age. In addition, the 2017 aggregate report showed a decrease in the average body mass index, a decrease in the percentage of employee participants with hypertension and increases in the percentage of employees with normal cholesterol levels and total hours of sleep acquired per night.
The continuous challenge of meeting routine testing requirements of Henrico County Sheriff’s Office employees in the Respiratory Surveillance program led Employee Health Services (EHS) to take a creative approach to an established process. Reporting to EHS during their shift for testing was one of many reasons contributing to inconsistent testing of employees each year resulting in lack of compliance with OSHA standards. Mobile spirometry became EHS’ “house call” to help cure this issue in the Sheriff’s Office. Providing on-site testing at the jail proved to be an efficient, time-saving solution to a compliance issue and resulted in additional benefits for both departments.
The eight -week Behavioral Activation (BA) program was created in January 2017, by the staff of the Brief Adult Mental Health Outpatient Program at Henrico Area Mental Health & Developmental Services (HAMHDS). The group was developed to engage adult consumers who had limited success in traditional therapy for chronic depressed mood. Feedback from consumers indicated that competing life priorities and obligations were barriers to committing to extended group and individual therapy. Using evidence-based practice, staff developed the Behavioral Activation (BA) group to provide consumers with easily understood and acquired skills that resulted in rapid improvement in depressive symptoms. This is an approach that discourages consumers from waiting until they feel better to be active. Rather, consumers are encouraged to “act on a plan and not on a mood with the understanding that mood improvements will follow activity. The curriculum focuses on using behavioral logs to track consumer variances in activity and mood. The effectiveness of the group is evaluated through pre and post-tests utilizing the Patient Health Questionnaire – 9 Depression Assessment that is a widely used and accepted measurement of depressive symptoms and response to treatment (Kroenke, Spitzer, Williams, 2001).
In the spring of 2016, Henrico County created a Heroin Task Force to evaluate the county’s response to the Heroin/Opioid epidemic. The task force includes the Sheriff, chiefs of Fire and Police, Fire Chief, Police Chief, the executive director of Mental
Health and Developmental Services, the Commonwealth’s Attorney, the Health Department director, a deputy county manager, and representatives from the department of Social Services and Henrico County Public Schools (HCPS). In August 2016, the Task Force provided the county manager specific recommendations in the following areas: prevention, treatment, communication, and the criminal justice system.
One of the recommendations focused on educating the public about the scope of the opiate problem in Henrico County and providing information about accessing treatment. As a result, Henrico County general government and HCPS collaborated to create the website https://bouncebackhc.com/. This site shares information on addiction, statistics from our community on the opioid crisis, recovery stories, and a list of local treatment providers and resources. Since its launch, the site has received over 5,942 unique visitors, and many viewers have referred back multiple times.
Henrico County implemented Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Basic training in 2008. This week-long instruction gives police, fire, sheriff, and mental health personnel the necessary skills to successfully assist individuals in crisis. In the past ten years,
Henrico’s CIT instructors have taught over 1,700 participants in 73 CIT Basic classes.
The Henrico chiefs of Police and Fire, the Sheriff and the director of Mental Health and Developmental Services requested training to refresh responders on the skills and resources taught in the CIT Basic class. As a result, Henrico County’s CIT instructors developed the CIT Refresher curriculum to fulfill this need. The curriculum highlights the initiatives of Henrico County’s CIT program, updates responders on legal changes, provides an opportunity to practice de-escalation skills, and offers an intensive session on current issues. The nationwide opiate epidemic is the current selected topic.
The 8-hour CIT Refresher classes were initially offered in 2017. More than 240 Henrico first responders completed the course on one of the twelve available dates. Additional training is scheduled for the coming years. This training is the first of its kind in Virginia and, purportedly, the first in the nation.
Henrico Area Mental Health & Developmental Services’ Parent Infant Program (PIP), provides Early Intervention supports and services for babies with developmental delays. Early intervention providers are often the first professionals to identify concerns that indicate a need for an autism assessment. Regionally, wait times are 6 months or more, toddlers may age out of the service before a diagnostic assessment can be completed.
In 2016, PIP partnered with Dr. Donald Oswald from Commonwealth Autism to develop an autism assessment clinic. The clinic was developed to meet several needs. First, provide diagnostic assessment services for children served by early intervention teams and who are at increased risk for a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. 100% of therapists were trained to administer the autism assessments. Secondly, to decrease the wait time for children to receive an early diagnosis. The wait time was reduced by 87%. Finally, to develop a transdisciplinary team process with best practices regarding diagnostic assessment for autism. Both parents/caregivers and therapists are part of the team. Once a child receives a diagnosis of autism, the early intervention team establishes supports and resources to enhance learning and development through everyday learning opportunities.
Henrico County Public Library (HCPL) partnered with Alane Ford of James River Home Health and Hospice to provide programs dedicated to supportive discussion of death and grief. People of all ages experience the loss of loved ones and colleagues, and, like many other localities, Henrico County is experiencing the effects of the age wave as the Baby Boomer generation enters retirement. Facing the need to provide information and support to a population increasingly experiencing grief, and desiring to break through the stigma surrounding conversations of death and dying, Ms. Ford offered her expertise to provide Death Cafés and Bereavement Groups at HCPL. The programs provide a needed community service, leverage the reputation of the library as a safe space to learn and explore ideas, and provide an outreach opportunity for James River Home Health and Hospice. Programs have been attended by community members of all ages, and due to demand, the program has expanded from annual Death Café events into monthly Bereavement Group meetings.
Teen programming in public libraries typically emphasizes group participation in scheduled events and provides opportunities for teens to socialize with their peers. As a result, introverted teens and teens who lack transportation may not have the same opportunities as their more sociable or mobile peers to engage with the library. To accommodate these teens through an engaging, passive program, librarians at Libbie Mill Library in Henrico, Virginia began creating monthly, interactive displays aiming to inform, entertain, and encourage teens to contribute and explore responses. Since June 2016, more than 3,300 teens have interacted with the displays which have covered a range of topics including: New Year’s Resolutions, Summer Reading, Black History Month, Women’s History Month, Pride Month, and Earth Day. Librarians have found that the displays foster and strengthen relationships between teens, their peers, and library staff. The displays successfully engage teens with library services on their own schedule and on their own terms with the ultimate goal of inspiring teens to become lifelong library users.
Henrico County Public Library (HCPL) first partnered with the Richmond Astronomical Society to present “Observe the Moon Night” in 2015 at Twin Hickory Library. The program aimed to provide a community event that would be educational and enjoyable for library patrons of all ages. It was an instant success, attracting 100 participants ranging in age from small children to senior citizens. Members of the Richmond Astronomical Society supplied high-quality telescopes, instructed viewers on using the equipment, and provided information about the moon and other celestial objects they could view. Observe the Moon Night was soon replicated at the Tuckahoe Library, drawing another large crowd. In 2017, HCPL was invited to participate in the national NASA @ My Library project and continued a partnership with Richmond Astronomical Society to increase STEM programming in Henrico. The program goal was expanded beyond providing an event for families to increasing access to scientific learning opportunities for Henrico residents. “Night Sky Astronomy” programs at Libbie Mill and Varina Libraries drew large and highly diverse crowds at little cost to the library system.
The At-Risk Resident Weather Radio Distribution Project is designed to get NOAA weather radios and other emergency planning resources into the hands of low-income families in Henrico County. This population tends to be the most impacted when a weather emergency occurs, particularly when it comes to recovery efforts. This program strives to enhance information sharing to provide simple knowledge about weather emergencies, so citizens can take control of their own preparedness efforts and have increased awareness about impending weather emergencies.
The Henrico County Division of Fire CAD Passport provides real-time personnel accountability, which bolsters firefighter safety, matches appropriate resources with community need, and increases organizational awareness of those personnel involved in high-stress and traumatic incidents.
Through the integration of available technology, tied to existing payroll and credentialing databases, response units are now categorized by the training levels and abilities of personnel to ensure the best resources are assigned to the community’s immediate need.
Fireground commanders can quickly assess personnel information and account for those working in hazardous locations through a reliable and automated method. The information is available in mobile environments and easily collected.
After high-stress incidents, the organization’s personnel greatly benefit from stress debriefing and counseling. CAD Passport identifies the specific names and the roles of the staff present at each critical incident, so they can participate in the debriefing process, if desired.
The Henrico County Division of Fire strives for an environment of continuous improvement and developed the 2018-2023 Continuous Improvement Strategy through a four-phased development process. The results of a comprehensive internal web-survey, a one-day community stakeholder forum, and an agency-partner luncheon were used to guide the workgroups of a three-day internal stakeholder workshop. The internal participants developed goals and objectives to provide for the agency’s direction over the coming years.
Additionally, the Division utilizes Annual Program Appraisals to assess the organization’s objectives and tie resource needs directly into the annual budget process. Closely linked with the appraisals is the semi-annual review resulting in a strategic realignment in July of each year.
The Community Smoke Alarm Initiative, a community risk reduction program highly dependent on data, was developed and implemented in Spring 2017. The program utilizes a comprehensive risk analysis, which is 84% reliable based on 2017’s actual performance.
Unlike any other program in the United States, the Henrico Smoke Alarm Initiative uses specific data for workload efficiency and performance measurement. The program’s technology is map-centric and directly tied with the firefighter’s dispatch software. Since implementation, every alarm installed and citizen interaction in the County has been recorded using available technologies on mobile devices.
The developed processes, technology solutions, and initial 1,350 alarms were all secured through internal resources, external partnerships, and incurred no cost to the recipients.
The Culinary Arts program at the Advanced Career Education (ACE) Center at Hermitage High School in Henrico County, is a two-year program that focuses on preparing students to enter the food service industry. Students are taught by a certified executive chef with more than 15 years of experience in a state-of-the-art commercial kitchen. The class demonstrates and develops skills that enable students to reach the point of preparing luncheons and dinners for various school and government functions. Students get the opportunity to see the planning, ordering, preparing, serving and cleanup that take place for any planned event while gaining hands-on experience in the fast-paced world of culinary arts.
In a government agency or school system, many items need to be printed. Newsletters, programs, posters, brochures, banners, coffee mugs and T-shirts all communicate with different organizations and audiences. Sometimes time and cost are obstacles that make it difficult for schools and county agencies to get important information printed for an event. Through the Graphic Communications program at the Advanced Career Education (ACE) Center at Hermitage High School in Henrico County, Virginia, these items are produced at a fraction of what they would cost at a commercial printer. Not only does the customer get a high-quality product, students have the opportunity to design and produce the items. This hands-on, real-world experience is of tremendous benefit for students. Students run a de facto business and are responsible for all aspects of the operation, including customer interaction, design, cost estimates and producing the finished product.
The 100 Men Challenge at Henrico County Public Schools’ Academy at Virginia Randolph (AVR) is an effort to provide strong role models for male students at the school. The goal of the challenge is to invite 100 men from various professions onto campus one day per month to motivate, encourage, and support the school’s male student population. The program aims to provide stability and security that will enable students to view life through a different lens and, ultimately, to empower and enhance their lives.
“From a Tiny Seed a Garden Grows” was a collaborative project that combined visual arts, reading, and science at Fair Oaks Elementary School. Through a grant provided by the Henrico Education Foundation, students in kindergarten through fifth-grade received garden books and worked together to plan and paint a hallway mural and decorate rocks and plant flowers in the courtyard.
Each year a subset of Henrico County Public Schools eighth-grade students is selected to apply to the Maggie Walker Governor’s School. This elite public school, which draws students from 13 central Virginia localities, is a comprehensive, college preparatory program emphasizing government, international studies, science, math, languages, and fine arts. Around 1,400 Henrico County Public Schools (HCPS) students are invited to apply for admission. Each year, those students and their parents are notified by a mailed letter to obtain a 21-page handbook and eight-page application in person from their school counselor. The application requires the student’s demographic and coursework information as well as include teacher recommendations before it can be returned to the school counselor. Once a counselor receives an application, the counselor forwards it to HCPS Office of Gifted Instruction for processing. An HCPS staff member then enters the applicant’s demographic and coursework information into a database and submits the application package to Maggie Walker Governor’s School for further processing and consideration. Once student selections are made, students are notified by letter from HCPS and the selected students are required to mail back a letter of intent to HCPS in order to attend the program. An online portal would provide a more efficient and cost-effective way to communicate with families and students about the application process.
In April 2017, Henrico County Public Schools (HCPS) Department of Library Services, and Goodwill of Central and Coastal Virginia established a partnership to supply books to the students and families of Henrico County, Virginia. Goodwill’s Central Virginia support center, located in Richmond, processes around a million donated books a week, most of which end up being recycled. In spring 2017, Goodwill staff members contacted Henrico County Public Schools after seeing a news story about the school division’s request for book donations. HCPS asked for donations of new and gently used books to schools to support the division’s new “Reading and Writing Across the Curriculum Challenge” in secondary schools. HCPS Library Services has coordinated a weekly opportunity for HCPS staff members to attend Goodwill and choose free books for school use.
As of Jan. 31, 2018, more than 40,000 books have been reclaimed and distributed to Henrico County students and families as a result of the “Spreading Goodwill Through Books” initiative.
The instructors in the auto body department at the Advanced Career Education (ACE) Center at Highland Springs High School in Henrico County, Virginia made their students’ classroom lessons become reality by partnering with Henrico County Public Schools’ (HCPS) Department of Construction and Maintenance. During the 2017-18 school year, students in the auto body classroom began painting the fleet of work vans used by the Construction and Maintenance Department. This program allows the vans to be painted at a substantial savings, while the students at the Advanced Career Education Center at Highland Springs gain practical firsthand experience in vehicle painting. To date, the students have painted four of the HCPS’s work vans. Because of the program, auto body students take substantial pride in their school and in their accomplishments.
Virginia’s Standards of Learning tests (SOLs) require a secure environment and consistent procedures to ensure the integrity of the test results. To this end, Henrico County Public Schools (HCPS) provides all instructional staff members with security training using a video produced by the school division. The video includes short scenes of common security violations from past testing events and ensures that all staff members receive standardized training in an engaging and effective way. The video was created in 2015 with contributions from the Center for the Arts at Henrico High School, Henrico Schools’ testing office, the school division’s attorney, and the HCPS departments of Human Resources, and Communications and Public Relations. It was updated in 2016 to include new staffing and additional vignettes. After successfully using the video for nine quarterly training sessions, a new video is being created for the 2018 testing program.