Racial Equity and Social Justice

Achieve racial equity in County service provision and ensure a workforce reflective of the community we serve.

Goal 3, Objective 2

Establish regular and publicly available reports on racial equity in County policies, programs, and services.

On Track 40%

Updated: January 2023

Summary of Objective Implementation Status

In November, 2020, the Office of Equity supported the Board of Supervisors in adopting a template for actions prior to new or substantial revisions to policy, including consideration of equity impacts. The Racial Equity Toolkit offers six sets of questions that, when applied to early policy development, can assist to ensure that individual decisions are aligned with race equity goals and outcomes. They are the following:

  1. Proposal: What is the policy, program, practice or budget decision under consideration?  What are the desired results and outcomes?
  2. Data: What’s the data? What does the data tell us?
  3. Community engagement: How have communities been engaged? Are there opportunities to expand engagement?
  4. Analysis and strategies: Who will benefit from or be burdened by your proposal? What are your strategies for advancing racial equity or mitigating unintended consequences?
  5. Implementation: What is your plan for implementation?
  6. Accountability and communication: How will you ensure accountability, communicate, and evaluate results?

The adopted changes to the Board Rules of Procedures require departments to consult with the Office of Equity to review the analysis conducted and to ensure alignment with the Race Equity & Social Justice pillar’s goals and objectives and with overarching County equity goals.

Since the adoption of the Board Rules of Procedures, the Office of Equity has had a limited number of consultations with departments adopting new or significant revisions to policy, including Department of Transportation and Public Works on the polystyrene ban, the Cannabis Equity Assessment, and the Agricultural Access Policy.

At the outset of 2021, the Office of Equity, working together with the County Administrator’s Office (CAO) identified a number of significant Board items that would benefit from including an equity analysis.  With the combination of the Board’s updated Rules of Procedure with the Racial Equity Toolkit and the identification of the Board items with possible equity impacts, the County has the tools in place to support departments to undertake and present its equity analysis in each Board item.  With the publication of the updated Portrait of Sonoma in November, 2021, as well as the data developed and utilized during the allocation of the American Rescue Plan Act funds, the County now has relevant and easily accessible data for departments to utilize as they undertake the requisite equity analyses.

The Office of Equity is also working to develop the equity skillset in the County’s Core Team, and each department with a Core Team member now has embedded staff to support the development of equity analyses. In addition, the Office of Equity will work to train each CAO analyst to ensure that relevant Board items contain an equity analysis in the Summary Report once a Race Equity Foundational Training is finalized and available.  Finally, now that the Office of Equity has trained Department Heads and County Supervisors, County leadership and key staff have gone through the Race Equity Learning Program. At this point, the County has sufficient capacity to track the number of new policies and significant revisions that have gone through an equity analysis and decision-making process, as well as to create accountability mechanisms for each department and the County as a whole. The Office of Equity, however, does not have the capacity to track this work, as staff requests for this purpose have gone unfulfilled.

Key Milestone Update

  • The County Administrator’s Significant Board Items list provide the overarching view of Board actions with equity impacts.
  • The Office of Equity, working with the County Administrator’s Office, developed a set of equity performance measures for use during Department Head performance evaluations. As each Department Head is now required to include a summary of their equity efforts in furtherance of the County’s equity goals, the Board of Supervisors has the ability to create additional accountability mechanisms for key leaders in County government.
  • The County’s allocation of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds also provides a key opportunity to create a new accountability mechanism and reporting process around equity investments to address the impacts felt by disproportionately impacted communities and community members. Accountability metrics will be developed in partnership with the ARPA Equity Community Work Group, and will be tracked through the Human Services Department’s Upstream Investments and additional equity considerations and data points in the County’s Results Based Accountability process. This will likely be the first opportunity to undertake an equity evaluation of funding and investments, beginning in Spring of 2022 and continuing through FY ‘25-26.

The CAO is the appropriate data reporter for whether a significant Board item has engaged in a race equity impact analysis.

ARPA reports will begin to be run in Spring, 2023.

Coordination and Partnership Update

The Office of Equity, the Department of Health Services, the Human Services Department, and the Economic Development Board worked closely beginning in Summer, 2021 to develop an equity-based allocation process for ARPA funds. This partnership includes cross-training, data collection, accountability metrics development, and, ultimately, allocation and evaluation of funding impacts.

The ARPA allocation process also includes the creation and development of the ARPA Community Equity Work Group, which intentionally focused on representation of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color in its membership, to ensure that there was connectivity to the lived and professional experiences of community members most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.  These 15 individuals representing all 5 Supervisorial Districts will also be central in the effort to build and nourish effective community partnerships rooted in racial equity to ensure broad access to ARPA funds.

Community, Equity, and Climate Update

Working with the ARPA Community Equity Work Group, as well as in Upstream Investments’ public data dashboard, the public will have access to the metrics and performance metrics of community-based organizational partners using these funds.  Currently the Upstream Investments Portfolio only allows someone to search using the criteria of service area and age demographic, and the work that the Office of Equity is undertaking with Upstream Investments will result in additional criteria (e.g. racial and ethnic demographics) being added to the Portfolio’s search capabilities.

While the ARPA allocation process marks the end of this iteration of the Work Group, one of the other areas of work currently on the Office of Equity’s Work Plan is to develop the County’s Community Engagement Plan. That Plan will elevate best practices from the Work Group as well as from the Equity (formerly Latinx) Health Work Group to inform its recommendations.

Funding Narrative

We will need funding to continue to support our work with consultants Equity & Results who are assisting the Office of Equity and Upstream Investments with the creation of a Results Based Accountability + equity approach to ARPA funding allocations. This work is also developing with the 31 Core Team members representing 12 Departments who chose to participate in training and implementation of Anti-Racist Results-Based Accountability. Participating departments/agencies include: Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District, Board of Supervisors (District 3), County Administrator’s Office, Community Development Commission, Child Support Services, Emergency Management, Department of Health Services, Human Resources, Human Services, Probation, Sonoma Water, and the Office of Equity.

This work, however, concludes in December, 2022, and the Office of Equity does not have the staff capacity to continue to support this work, as requests for staff for this purpose have gone unfulfilled.