Michigan recently launched a Chief Information Security Officer-as-a-service pilot to help small- and midsize government agencies improve their cybersecurity readiness as if they had such an executive onsite. As part of the initiative, the program provides each community with a scorecard to benchmark their systems and asset maturity, prioritize risks, and track progress. Results can also be used to determine which areas require more funding to support requests for upgrades. Presently, there are nine Michigan communities participating in the program.
California will become the first US state to require that new houses, condos, and certain apartment buildings have solar panels starting in 2020. Although solar power will provide energy savings to homeowners, the requirements are expected to increase the initial costs of housing by thousands of dollars. New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Washington, DC, have also considered similar legislation.
Since 2014, the state of Oregon has been tracking metrics in three counties related to good legal representation for foster children and caregivers in an effort to improve services to this population. Measures have included the amount of time lawyers spend with clients, number of caseloads per lawyer, access to multidisciplinary staff such as expert witnesses, and client satisfaction. Counties that have implemented the approach, which includes limiting lawyers to 80 clients and compensating them according to how much time they devote to each case, have witnessed a higher share of children returned to their parents, fewer children entering the foster care system, and a reduction in wait time for placement into permanent homes. Supporters of the program hope to secure further appropriation of monies to expand the approach statewide after a study evaluating its effectiveness is completed by the University of Chicago.
New York State has approved the Opioid Alternative Project, a pilot program designed to encourage emergency doctors to prescribe opioid alternatives for pain management. The program is modeled after a 2017 Colorado initiative that saw a 36-percent reduction in the prescribing of opioids over a six-month period of the program. Emergency rooms are of particular interest as they can often be the first contact some patients have with opioids. The Iroquois Healthcare Alliance which comprises 54 hospitals in 32 upstate counties will administer the pilot, which it drafted. Officials also hope to develop and share a list of best practices with other hospitals.
A growing number of schools are instituting four-day school weeks for part or all of the academic year, with goals of saving money, attracting teachers, strengthening professional development, and allowing for the scheduling of internships or extracurricular and family activities. While popular in some communities, critics observe that the shift may not materially impact the school's budget, can create different childcare difficulties, and that fitting in extra hours during the other school days may hurt, not help student learning.