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New Report Finds 1% of Sonoma County Residents Account for Over 25% of Jail, Shelter, and Behavioral Health Utilization (ACCESS Sonoma)


Santa Rosa, CA  –  July 8, 2020  –  A new report released today by the California Policy Lab at UC Berkeley helps Sonoma County government leaders to identify and better serve a group of about 6,600 high utilizers of health, justice, and homelessness services provided by state and county agencies. These high utilizers represent approximately 1% of the county population, but account for an average of 26% of jail time, 28% of annual costs for behavioral health services, and 52% of nights in housing or shelters provided to the homeless.

The report focuses on government programs and services provided in five domains: physical health, behavioral health, housing, human services, and criminal justice. The research team worked with the county to link together anonymized records across county and state agencies, and then identified the highest utilizing “shared clients” between those systems. Providing services to the top 1% highest utilizers in Sonoma County cost the government at least $27,000 annually per person during the five-year study window.

“Almost half of high utilizers in Sonoma County don’t have stable housing, more than 6 in 10 have received services for substance abuse, and nearly two-thirds are interacting with the criminal justice system,” explains Evan White, executive director of the California Policy Lab and a co-author of the report. “These individuals have complex needs that are hard to identify by county staff working within only one domain, and our goal in partnering with Sonoma County is to help improve how these individuals receive care and services.”

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As usual, great point! The reports conveys a them vs us mentality that we are all working so hard to address. 

ACEs Connection has been hosting community conversations about A Better Normal (
LINK to 35 past meetings). Today the conversation was about Community, Poverty & Parenting with ACEs, led by Cissy White and Rebecca Lewis Pankratz. Amazing! Folks from as far away as the UK partiocated! That is one benefit of hosting online meetings!

Next Friday, my collaguage Carey will host Two ACEs Champions share: The urgency of ACEs initiatives helping systems of care, and the communities they’re in, become trauma-informed. 

On Friday, July 24 at noon PDT/3 p.m. EDT, these friends and expert community organizers will share their approaches. Haas has worked from the inside out, most recently as the ACEs educator for a regional healthcare system and previously in a similar role with local law enforcement. Glass has often worked from the outside in, to improve systems of care or create her own to effect change.

And, next Weds, July 22, 2020 we are having our monthly ACEs meeting via Zoom starting at 3:30 (folks can also call in if they want to) More details will be posted next week. 
Wishing you all the best,

Thanks for posting this Karen. Much like ACEs, the matter of clients of one service often requiring multiple services, is something intuitively known to most service providers. We all have worked with persons whose lack of transportation also made it difficult to keep a job, or whose lack of stable housing impacted their child's ability to have a consistent educational situation. It's great to see some actual numbers and percentages to verify the extent of the problem. 

One concern I have is the characterization of these persons as "high users." I fear it carries the notion of "using more than their share" which suggests that they are the problem, rather than they have a problem. It's too much like the terms "problem student" or "difficult patient." Anyone have a suggestion for a term that might be better?

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