County officials strive for collaboration to enhance services

Ami Ridling Daily News Staff Writer
Karen Ponder facilitates a coordination workshop with Siskiyou County Supervisors Michael Kobseff, Marcia Armstrong, Brandon Criss and Grace Bennett along with various local agency representatives at the Siskiyou County Behavioral Health Services building on Jan. 10. The workshop served to guide local agencies to form partnerships and pool resources to better serve Siskiyou County residents.

YREKA – “Collaboration” was the buzzword at the Siskiyou County Behavioral Health Services building in Yreka on Jan. 10 when the county board of supervisors and county-wide public service agency representatives assembled to accomplish one thing – work collectively and pool resources to improve the services available to all county residents.

The workshop, titled “Re-Visioning Siskiyou County – Partnering for Meaningful Change,” was facilitated by Karen Ponder, an early childhood development expert who has facilitated community partnerships that have achieved results in her North Carolina home state.

Among those in attendance at the workshop were representatives from First 5 Siskiyou Children and Families Commission; Siskiyou Community Services Council; College of the Siskiyous; the county’s family resource centers; the library; and the county’s  district attorney, probation, public health, behavioral health and social services departments.

District 3 Supervisor Michael Kobseff noted that this workshop marked the first time that the supervisors, First 5 representatives and the Community Services Council came together to address collaboration.

“Collaboration, when done right, gets results,” said Ponder. “We have to drive it in order to get results, and it requires a commitment to share knowledge and decision-making.”

Ponder addressed the importance of inclusion in successful collaboration and a willingness to change the way business is conducted in order to get better results in the future.

In looking at some of the problems facing Siskiyou County public service agencies, all of which operate on limited funding, several attendees pointed out that duplication of programs is among one of the major issues they would like to address in order to maximize resources in the county.

In addition, attendees noted that they wish to form partnerships to improve elder care and quality child care options for working families, establish housing for the homeless population and plan economic development strategies.

District 4 Supervisor Grace Bennett said it is imperative that local agencies evaluate their “gaps” in services in order to communicate those gaps to other agencies to get them filled.

Kobseff suggested that the board of supervisors meet twice a year with First 5 and Community Services Council representatives to set reasonable goals toward maximizing resources.

“This meeting helped to get all of us at the table. If we are going to be offering services on a countywide basis, we all have to be at the same table,” said Siskiyou County Superintendent of Schools Kermith Walters.