Shasta County Office of Education (SCOE): A Rural County Office of Education Coordinates Services and Funding

 Shasta County Office of Education, Redding, CA

Since the Community Connect program started in 2020, over 1,500 students have been referred to the program, with nearly 50% of the students' families choosing to engage further in program services.

Getting To Know the Shasta County Office of Education

 Located in Northern California, about 160 miles north of Sacramento, Shasta County is home to three incorporated cities and approximately 180,000 residents. As a rural county, Shasta County Office of Education (SCOE) plays a lead role in providing technical assistance and coordination of student services, while also leveraging various funding sources to create efficiencies across the county, on behalf of the approximately 26,000 students enrolled in 24 school districts and 77 public schools across almost 3,900 square miles.

Collaboration and Early Childhood Expertise Come Together To Support Families

 The Community Connect program highlights SCOE’s broad network of partnerships, and its role in coordinating those myriad partners. Through this program, SCOE partners with 24 districts across the county to provide students and families with case management services and connections to community-based supports. The program was built with community partners like 211 that helped to extend an already existing referral network, and Help Me Grow (HMG, which is a program of First 5 Shasta serving children 0-5 years of age to school age kids).  Over the past two years over 1,500  students have been referred to the program, with nearly 50% of the students' families choosing to engage further in Community Connect services.

The Community Connect program was born from a collaborative stakeholder planning process focused on student attendance issues across the county. SCOE discovered that families were experiencing difficulty finding services in their community, which were often beyond the scope of what a local county office of education could provide. What initially began as just a resource referral list for other service providers, soon grew to become a case management program that is now Community Connect.

Joy Garcia, Senior Director of Special Projects for SCOE, brought her experiences from the early childhood realm to this stakeholder planning process to help expand services, age ranges, and staffing using the existing Help Me Grow infrastructure and supports. Joy’s previous experience as Executive Director of First 5 Shasta allowed her deep insight into the infrastructure of early childhood planning, staffing, implementation, and funding, which lent itself well to eventually building out the Community Connect program with case management and referral services for a broader age range. Most notably, Joy understands first hand the importance of providing services for families in a prevention focused model rather than intervention.

Innovative Funding To Support Keeping Families Strong

 SCOE’s Community Connect program is funded through a combination of public and private partnerships, with the majority of investments geared towards preventative services.

Key funding streams include:

  1. State/county early childhood dollars
  2. Local philanthropic partners
  3. One-time Federal/State Investments

In addition to playing a key coordination role as a county office of education, SCOE can also access Medi-Cal reimbursement revenue streams and is actively looking at ways to expand partnerships with each of the “Big Three” Medi-Cal Payors in Schools. SCOE collaborates with local school districts to share their learnings, since smaller districts may not have the existing bandwidth to research and set up an infrastructure for billing on their own.

Although SCOE has been participating in the LEA BOP program for a while, Joy would describe their participation as “passive.” With new opportunities, SCOE is in the process of selecting a new third party BOP vendor to expand Medi-Cal billing. SCOE is seeking a vendor who will be a creative partner in accessing various Medi-Cal revenue streams and supporting SCOE to take advantage of the shifting landscape. Using SBHIP funds, SCOE will create a toolkit to support districts within the county who are interested in billing Medi-Cal.

SCOE is also in conversations with their local Managed Care Plan (MCP), Partnership HealthPlan of California, to pay for individual and group therapy sessions provided by mental health clinicians and a behavioral specialist for an Evidence-based Positive Parenting Program and other qualifying services.

SCOE will receive individualized technical assistance and coaching to more fully leverage all three Medi-Cal revenue sources as part of the School Health Demonstration Project—an effort to support districts and county offices of education to build the capacity for long-term sustainability of comprehensive health and mental health services by leveraging multiple revenue sources. Once again, SCOE plans to translate its learning to build capacity with the 24 school districts it serves.

Key Takeaways

  • Consider a cradle-to-career framework: Districts should think expansively about the funding sources available to meet student needs beyond K-12 education and consider embracing a cradle-to-career framework to assess all available funding sources. Because of Joy’s background in human services, SCOE leverages many early childhood funds that often are overlooked by districts and county offices of education. Supporting Shasta’s children earlier also enables the county to shift resources and attention and be able to identify issues and provide support before they grow more severe.
  • Establish cross-sector partnerships: SCOE has also played a key role as a connector and convener, building important bridges and connections between the county’s 24 school districts as well as various county departments and community agencies such as Shasta’s Health and Human Services Agency, Shasta County Probation Department, First 5 Shasta, and Partnership Health Plan. By working across sectors, SCOE is able to bring more resources and services to the children and families they serve and create efficiencies.
  • Leverage one-time public dollars to set up infrastructure: Additionally, SCOE is utilizing the one-time California Community Schools Partnership Program funds to sustain programming for high-need students while simultaneously working to increase Medi-Cal reimbursements and building out a fee-for-service model for its attendance and behavioral support services. Other districts and COE’s can employ a similar model of utilizing one-time funds to bridge the gap while building the internal infrastructure to draw down more sustainable resources through Medi-Cal reimbursement, fee-for-service models, and other sources of revenue. LEAs can also play a role in providing the technical assistance needed to draw down local, county, and state funding if districts cannot manage that alone. Coordination and consolidation between districts within a given county can be the key to sustainability.

For more information, contact: Joy Garcia, Senior Director of Special Projects at SCOE,