Loudoun County has been recognized with 10 Achievement Awards from the National Association of Counties (NACo). The awards honor innovative, effective county government programs. Loudoun’s award-winning programs are:
Branching Out for the Homeless
Loudoun County Public Library partnered with the Department of Mental Health, Substance Abuse and Developmental Services’ Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH) program to provide information and resources to assist individuals who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of being homeless. The weekly “Homeless Outreach Drop-In” events held at the Rust Library in Leesburg have helped more than 120 people since July 2017. Because many homeless individuals often spend time in the library, the partnership enabled the PATH team to reach people it previously had not.
Working with more than dozen Loudoun County government departments and nonprofit groups, the Loudoun County Public Library has hosted several family dinner programs for its patrons in Sterling Park in an effort to build community and to connect with underserved and non-English-speaking populations. The library and its partners created a series of free programs geared toward local families with an emphasis on community engagement and literacy building. A storytime for children, a meal for all participants, a crafting event and conversational skill-building were core elements of the “Mi Familia” and “Community Dinner” programs. Cooking classes provided adults with an opportunity to learn about nutrition, healthy cooking techniques and menu planning.
County Assumption of Billing and Collecting Incorporated Town Taxes
Up until 2019, residents of the seven towns in Loudoun County received tax bills from both the county and their respective towns with different due dates and payment methods. Loudoun has become the first jurisdiction within the Commonwealth of Virginia to take on the billing, collection, and administration of personal property and real property taxes for five of those towns. Led by the Treasurer’s Office, the joint solution improves the efficiency and effectiveness of tax collection. It also unifies the assessment function of the Commissioner of the Revenue within the county government systems, reducing the risk of error and duplication.
Discussion Forums on Trending Workplace Issues: “Loudoun Talks”
Loudoun Talks is a quarterly county government employee forum hosted by the Department of Human Resources with the intent of discussing trending workplace topics. In its first year, the talks included “Millennials in the Workplace,” “Sexual Harassment,” “Unconscious Bias,” and “Workplace Civility.” The forums address topics that employees may not always be comfortable bringing up on their own. Each forum is designed to be cutting edge and interactive, with clear learning objectives and key takeaways.
The Douglass Dunes project transformed a little-used playground with a view of a storm drainage ditch and the back of a car repair facility into an outdoor sand play and gathering area for all ages. Located at the Douglass Community Center in Leesburg, the area is decorated in a nautical beach theme and includes a sand-covered play area with toys and a small boat. A patio area includes Adirondack style furnishings for adults as well as a foosball table. Other features include a miniature working lighthouse, wave and seagull sounds, beach music and portholes with underwater fish videos playing inside. The renovated area is now a much- used gathering space for families from throughout the county.
Expansion of Legal Resources
After taking over operation of the county’s Law Library from the Clerk of the Circuit Court, the Loudoun County Public Library (LCPL) added more legal-related services, including free notarizations at all of its branches and a Passport Application Acceptance Office. The heightened awareness and availability of legal resources that came from the Law Library’s absorption by LCPL, coupled with new services, resulted in dramatic usage increases. Over a two-year period, visits to the Law Library more than doubled and partnerships with the county’s Adult and Juvenile Detention Centers were strengthened.
Improving Digital Government Services Through User-Focused Design and Governance
The need to provide modern digital services to the community was a driving force in the redesign and reimagining of the Loudoun County website, loudoun.gov. One major innovation was the development and implementation of a new web governance structure and policy designed to ensure the continued effectiveness of the site beyond its initial launch period. The program, led by Public Affairs and Communications, focuses on putting website users first and giving them what they want and need from their digital government services.
Lessening the Burden on Families: A Collaborative Planning Approach
Loudoun County’s Office of Emergency Management has led the region in developing a model process for Family Assistance Center plans. Recognizing the importance of providing families with assistance following a mass casualty incident, Loudoun developed a comprehensive plan, focused on lessening the burden on families dealing with tragedy. The planning process model developed in Loudoun has been adopted by the Northern Virginia region and is now part of the National Transportation Safety Board’s training curriculum. The planning tool will be used to help jurisdictions across the United States as they develop their own Family Assistance Center plans.
“Made Here, Grown Here” Hospital Onesie Campaign
Working with Inova Loudoun Hospital and StoneSprings Hospital, the Department of Economic Development promoted its “Loudoun Made, Loudoun Grown” program with free onesies with the “Loudoun Made, Loudoun Grown” logo for the first 100 newborns of 2019. The logoed onesies campaign not only helped spread consumer awareness of the program, but also celebrated Loudoun’s newest residents.
“On Board:” A new online hiring and training online system
The Loudoun County Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Services’ “On Board” program is a streamlined method of processing the department’s approximately 1,500 employee actions annually. The program digitizes employee hiring materials as well as promotions, transfers and other actions. “On Board” was developed and customized through a partnership with the Loudoun County Department of Information Technology. It replaced a system that relied on paper and interdepartmental mail the new system has cut the previous eight- week average processing time to an average of 21 days.
More information about the National Association of Counties and the NACo Achievement Award Program is online at www.naco.org.
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