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Alameda County earns innovation honor for STEP-UP program

Also among eight county efforts to take home Achievement Awards

Alameda County has been recognized at the national level for its program that aims to help female survivors rebuild their lives in the wake of crises such as sexual assault or domestic violence.

The National Association of Counties (NACo) named the county's Survivor Training and Empowerment -- Utilizing your Potential (STEP-UP) program among this year's top "100 Brilliant Ideas at Work," a new national award series to highlight key efforts across all 3,069 counties in the U.S.

Alameda County also earned eight Achievement Awards for various initiatives, including STEP-UP, from NACo at the organization's annual meeting last month in Ohio. The county's Board of Supervisors celebrated the honors at its regular meeting last week.

"These awards reflect the innovative work being done across our county organization,'' County Administrator Susan Muranishi said in a statement. "They also affirm the significant progress we are making in protecting the environment, supporting our community's most vulnerable residents and finding efficient, cost-effective new ways to do business.''

STEP-UP is a training and empowerment effort offered by the Alameda County District Attorney's Office for local women who are survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault as well as for women diverted from the criminal justice system after an allegation of public assistance fraud, according to county officials.

Offered in English and Spanish, the program helps women develop personal, professional and financial skills to assist them in breaking the cycle of violence and poverty, officials said. It also includes detailed job development sessions that serve as pathways to paid employment.

The NACo Achievement Awards also honored a variety of county programs, including initiatives to fight human trafficking, protect natural resources, expand elections transparency and save taxpayer dollars.

"We are extremely proud of the national recognition Alameda County is receiving this year for the many ways we are improving service to our residents," Board of Supervisors President Wilma Chan said.

"It's gratifying to see such a wide range of excellent county programs recognized for the innovative ways they are addressing challenges facing all local governments," added Supervisor Keith Carson, who also serves on the NACo Board of Directors.

The seven other Achievement Awards went to the following programs, as described by county officials:

* MAP1193 -- Stop Human Trafficking: A mobile app developed by the DA's Office and Information Technology Department to educate businesses and mobilize community support for a state law requiring certain businesses to display posters fostering awareness and a quick response to suspected cases of human trafficking.

* The Criminal Justice Operational Database Management System: An upgraded countywide criminal justice database that provides vital information to the county's major criminal justice partners -- the Sheriff's, DA's and Public Defender's offices, the Probation Department and the Superior Court.

* Automated Employee Onboarding System: An effort that streamlines the process of bringing new hires into the county organization by having the employee provide required information via online application, saving large amounts of paper.

* Online Filing of Assessment Appeals: A new online system that lets residents and business owners appeal property assessments performed by the county. The process saves staff time and allows appellants to track their appeals online.

* Elections Results Viewer: An online map created by the IT Department that provides precinct-by-precinct election results in real time.

* A Strategic Plan for Office Paper: A comprehensive countywide effort in which county departments together reduced paper use by 23% over five years.

* Public Works Surveyor Documents Sharing Website: An online tool that makes parcel maps, survey records and other important documents often sought by the public available online -- enhancing public convenience and saving large amounts of staff time.

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