The Solano County Advancing Race Equity Team originally began as a Public Health initiative. In 2017, Dr. Matyas, the Solano County Health Officer and Public Health Deputy Director, learned about the 2016 GARE Learning Cohort and encouraged staff to look into the opportunity. The Health & Social Services (H&SS) Department – of which Solano Public Health is a Division – agreed that a Solano team should participate in the learning year because participating in race equity work would help with Public Health’s health equity goals.
After the first cohort session, however, the Solano Team realized that having a team of just Public Health staff would be missing out on a huge opportunity to collaborate with other H&SS Divisions, and other County Departments. An invitation was extended to several Solano County Departments and staff from Employment & Eligibility, Behavioral Health, Medical Services, Public Defender and a local community-based organization (Solano Coalition for Better Health) joined Public Health staff on the Solano County Advancing Race Equity Team to participate in the GARE learning year.
Upon graduating from the 2016 GARE Learning Cohort, the Solano Team began hosting four-hour “Advancing Racial Equity” Trainings to normalize the conversation around the history of racial inequity, implicit & explicit bias, and individual, institutional and structural racism. Between February 2017 and June 2017, the team conducted seven full trainings and one train-the-trainer session for prospective facilitators. So far, the training evaluations have been overwhelmingly positive, with over 50% of participants requesting more time and more frequent opportunities to continue the conversation.
Immediate next steps include rolling out the “Advancing Racial Equity” Training to all H&SS staff, developing and rolling out a follow-up training on how to use the Race Equity Tool, and forming Equity Teams in each of the H&SS Divisions to create an infrastructure that institutionalizes expectations around equitable practices inside the largest County Department.