Nine Salt Lake County programs win national recognition

The National Association of Counties (NACo) granted nine Salt Lake County programs 2022 Achievement Awards. These awards honor innovative, effective county government programs that strengthen services for residents. This year Library Connections at the Salt Lake County Jail was named Best in Category for Libraries. This is the first time Salt Lake County has received a Best in Category for Libraries award. 

“This year, Salt Lake County programs received a record-breaking number of awards. These programs improve how we provide health care, serve older adults, care for animals, address teenage mental health needs, protect public safety, and more. I am proud of what we are doing to make Salt Lake County an even better place to live,” said Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson. 

Each year, NACo gives Achievement Awards in 18 categories that reflect the many services counties provide. “The Achievement Awards demonstrate excellence in county government and the commitment to serve our residents every day,” said NACo President Denise Winfrey. “This year’s winners represent some of the most innovative and collaborative efforts we have seen in over 50 years of presenting these awards.”

Below are the nine award-winning programs: 

  • (Library Services) Library Connections at the Salt Lake County Jail: Salt Lake County Library has two branches located in Salt Lake County Jail facilities, serving roughly 2,000 daily residents of the Jail. The library houses a collection of 45,000 items, provides references, and offers monthly self-directed programming. The library participates in the Jail’s Life Skills program, offering six hours of classes to help incarcerated individuals become familiar with resources that can help them be more successful post-incarceration.
  • (Youth Services) ME Time: This program aims to reduce depressive symptoms and substance abuse for youth ages 13-19. The data from Youth Services’ implementation of ME Time from July 2021- June 2022 showed that participants had significantly lower rates of depressive symptoms after going through the program and the rates continued to drop after. Participants’ depressive symptoms decreased by 22% on average. The program is based on concepts from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and is taught in a group setting once weekly for six weeks. It encourages participants to engage in social and physical activities to manage their moods. Youth Services has run ME Time since 2019 to help meet the high need for accessible mental health services.
  • (Animal Services) Advisory Committee Salt Lake County Animal Services: In 2018, Salt Lake County Animal Services created a new advisory committee of voluntary members. This committee brings a regional and county-wide perspective to the management and operation of Animal Services. The committee provides recommendations to the division, mayor, and council on issues related to animal and shelter services.
  • (Criminal Justice Services) Jail Resource and Reentry Program (JRRP): JRRP provides individuals exiting the Salt Lake County Jail with resources and information to successfully reenter the community. Individuals receive information and resources regarding court appearances, conditions of supervision, and assistance with treatment, housing, employment, and transportation needs. The initial success demonstrated by explaining upcoming court hearings, explaining community supervision requirements, and linking clients to community services are encouraging signs that Salt Lake County has implemented a program that can have a significant impact on recidivism and improved outcomes for clients. Since its opening, JRRP has provided information and referrals to over 2,500 individuals, including over 230 community food referrals, 172 employment referrals, 417 Medicaid referrals, and transportation directly to treatment centers for several clients. Over 1,000 individuals received court and/or community supervision information. 
  • (Animals Services) Utah FACES Endowment: Salt Lake County Animal Services is one of just a few municipal animal organizations in the nation that fundraises to support programs and creates endowments to ensure these programs are sustainable for future generations. Animal Services created the Utah Friends for Animal Care and Effective Solutions (FACES) endowment in 2019 from dissolved funds of Utah FACES. The endowment’s principal investment continues to grow yearly, and much of the program work is supported through interest accruals. This unique funding structure uses a new model for managing public funds that expands resources.
  • (Health Department) Data-Informed Programmatic Delivery: In 2018, the Health Department began to move away from broad-based program delivery to more focused attention on communities with historically inequitable health outcomes. This initiative created a bureau of staff that focuses on identifying data to inform program delivery, usage, and potential. To create synergy within the department, they created the Bureau of Population Health and Informatics (PHIB) where staff with analytics and evaluation skills could work in a cohesive unit. This bureau focused on identifying skills that the group needed to improve the services they could provide to department programs. PHIB led to a better understanding of what data programs create and what skills the team needs to become more proficient in. It also informed the creation of specific data projects using improved program delivery.
  • (Aging & Adult Services) Home-Delivered Meals Heated Bags Sustainability Program: This program delivers over 1,400 hot meals to older adults via paid employee drivers and volunteer teams. Paid staff drive fleet trucks designed to keep meals warm, and volunteers who deliver meals rely upon heated, insulated bags provided by the program. The program fixes rather than replaces these bags through a cooperative partnership, reducing costs and waste.
  • (Aging & Adult Services) The Caregiver Talking Points: This program is a flexible learning program for caregivers. The program covers a wide variety of care management subjects and skills needed by family, friends, and other caregivers. Aging and Adult Services created this program for two purposes: 1) To re-energize and educate caregivers, so they are more skilled at improving their daily lives and managing their routines; and 2) To assist case managers to better coach caregivers.
  • (Parks and Recreation) Magna Regional Park & Inclusive Playground: Magna Regional Park is an inclusive, regional, and destination park. The park provides public green space access and top-notch recreation and play to an underserved community. This regional park provides a destination-inclusive playground, splash pad, pavilions, two miles of multi-use trails, connection to a regional trail system, and multi-use fields. Magna Regional Park provides a play environment where those of all abilities can interact and play while minimizing the stigma of accessibility needs. This type of outdoor recreation facility and investment brings an increased sense of community and value, enhanced trail connectivity, and opportunities for active transportation to residents of northwest Salt Lake County.