Safe and Secure Counties
National County Government Month (NCGM) is an annual celebration of county government held each April. Since 1991, the National Association of Counties has encouraged counties to actively promote the services and programs they offer. Counties can schedule activities any time during the month. This year’s theme is Safe and Secure Counties.
Here are a few ideas on how to get started:
Establish a Planning Committee
The committee will plan, organize and coordinate all activities relating to NCGM. Committee members should include representatives from the County Commissioners Court and each county department. In addition, a public information officer or county official experienced in media relations should be included. Consider including a county extension service representative. This could be a staff member, 4-H volunteer or 4-H member. All areas of county government and schools should be involved in the planning process.
Decide How Extensive Your Activities Will Be
Plan activities throughout the month or organize just a few featured events. Hold fun, interactive and informative activities to reach different segments of your community including students, educators, senior citizens, young families, business leaders and community organizations. Activities should be designed to bring residents to county facilities such as the courthouse, parks, public safety building and recycling/waste transfer station. Activities can be planned to deploy county officials to locations where residents are already assembled.
Involve the Media
Be sure members of the local news media are aware of NCGM and the activities your committee has planned. Consider involving a member of the news media in the planning process.
As part of NCGM, prepare and distribute county fact sheets. Some counties roll out a “County Fact of the Day” or distribute fact sheets representing key county departments, such as public safety, parks and recreation, public works and health. Tell them things many residents do not know about county services, but need to know.
Send the fact sheets to the media, post them on the county website and distribute via social media. Fact sheets can highlight county services and programs provided by your county:
Emergency Response, Public Safety and Justice
- How many trained emergency responders are employed by the county?
- How many trained volunteer emergency responders serve the county?
- How many emergency calls were responded to last year?
- How many bookings were processed at the county jail last year?
- What is the daily average jail population?
Health & Hospitals
- How many patients were served last year at county hospitals and clinics?
- How many health department inspections were conducted last year?
- How many vaccinations were administered last year?
- How many emergency room visits were made last year?
- How many nursing homes are in the county?
- How many county residents have health insurance?
Children and Families
- How many senior citizens or veterans received county services last year?
- How is your county protecting children from abuse and neglect?
- How is your county supporting domestic violence survivors?
Economy & Employment
- How many people are unemployed in the county?
- What is the average county wage?
- How many residents received direct job training or unemployment services last year?
- How many businesses have been added to the county? How many new jobs have they brought in?
Presentations in Schools
Plan visits to schools by various elected and appointed county officials. Discuss interesting historic facts about the county, such as famous residents or important events. Discuss how county government is structured and define its roles and responsibilities. Explain how the county works in conjunction with the state and federal government. Consider organizing a panel discussion with residents who have been positively affected by county programs. Make information on county government available to teachers to use in presentations or as part of their lesson plans.
Plan career days at local high schools. Share information about various occupations within county government such as sheriff’s deputies, police officers, social workers, nurses, court clerks, tax collectors, elections officials, parks and recreation employees, transportation department workers, librarians, corrections officers, firefighters and emergency dispatchers. Emphasize the essential services that these public servants provide each day to the community.
Tours of County Facilities
Encourage schools to set up tours of county offices and facilities. The approach should be part of a class lesson plan on government structure, the legislative process, public safety, health care and other services.
County Official for a Day
This is a popular activity for many students. High school students interested in government could be part of a program to become a county official for a day (i.e.: “shadow” a county official) and share the experience with other students.
For younger students, sponsor a poster, essay or coloring contest involving the “Safe and Secure Counties” theme or other county government theme.
Offer to teach a class at the community college or give a lecture. The topics could include health care, green government, economic development, technology, public safety, disaster preparedness, infrastructure and transportation or careers in county government.
Encourage college and high school students to address issues affecting local government through debates. Hold the debates in classrooms or as part of a high school assembly.
Social Media Strategies
Social media provides tremendous opportunities to promote your NCGM events. If you already have a Facebook or Twitter account, use it to promote county government month activities. Coordinate a county government month “social media team” to plan social media outreach efforts.
For more information on how to celebrate NCGM in your county, go to http://www.naco.org/resources/national-county-government-month.