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County of Santa Clara Hires New Chief Children’s Officer to Lead the New Office of Children and Families Policy

Sarah Duffy previously led analytic and strategic teams in charge of programs serving children in San Francisco, Palo Alto

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. — In an effort to best use and improve considerable resources devoted to serving those under age 18 in Santa Clara County, the County has hired longtime children’s program analyst, strategist, and manager, Sarah Duffy, as its first Chief Children’s Officer to lead the Office of Children and Families Policy.

“The County of Santa Clara has long been a force in providing youth-oriented programs and services, and those needs were exacerbated by more than two years of a pandemic,” said County Executive Jeffrey V. Smith, M.D., J.D. “This new position will oversee some of the County’s most important goals – keeping every child safe, every child healthy, every child successful in learning, and every child successful in life.”

The position was created last year by a unanimous vote of the Board of Supervisors, led by Supervisors Susan Ellenberg and Cindy Chavez. The goal of the position is to better coordinate and utilize the County’s more than 180 programs dedicated to serving the 440,000 residents who are under 18 years old in Santa Clara County, looking for gaps in services as well as potential redundancies. Ultimately, the County’s vision is for an equitable application of services with an eye toward the most vulnerable populations.

“Investing in the children and families of Santa Clara County demands an ongoing commitment and strong leadership,” said Supervisor and Board Vice President Susan Ellenberg. “This leadership role centers children and the policies which affect them. The Chief Children’s Officer will work with our community partners to be a direct advocate for children, explore new funding opportunities, and build connections and coordination among County programs.”

County Executive Dr. Jeffery V. Smith pointed out that the County budgeted approximately $1 billion for children’s services in 2021-2022, the bulk of which comes from federal, state, and other sources. It amounts to about 11 percent of the County’s total budget.

Headshot of Sarah Duffy

Supervisor Cindy Chavez said it was critical to create a position and bring a “leader at the highest level.”

“This is a position that will play a leadership role countywide,” she said. “This will change the way we are thinking, long-term, with an eye on equity and an eye on prevention. To give it the wings needed to shift culture, it needs to be considered a body of work. I look forward to seeing our new Chief Children’s Officer take our thoughts and do great things.”

Sarah Duffy led analytic and strategic teams serving the children of San Francisco and Palo Alto. She has been a policy analyst and consultant since 2008, with 10 years in San Francisco where she oversaw analytic efforts to inform investments with the city’s Department of Children, Youth and Their Families.

“I’m very excited to lead this unique Office,” said Duffy. “The leaders of Santa Clara County really have a finger on the pulse of what young people and their families need. This Office will support the implementation of high priority Board-supported initiatives, as well as support the County organization in taking a systems approach grounded in advancing equity and creating opportunities for children and youth.”

Ms. Duffy has a bachelor’s degree in English from Stanford University and a master’s in Public Policy from UC Berkeley. She will join the County of Santa Clara on Tuesday, May 31.

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The County of Santa Clara government serves a diverse, multi-cultural population of 1.9 million residents in Santa Clara County, California, making it more populous than 14 states in the U.S. The County provides essential services to its residents, including public health protection, environmental stewardship, medical services through the County of Santa Clara Health System, child and adult protection services, homelessness prevention and solutions, roads, park services, libraries, emergency response to disasters, protection of minority communities and those under threat, access to a fair criminal justice system, and many other public benefits.

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Media Contact: María Leticia Gómez / Eric Kurhi,  Office of Communications and Public Affairs, (408) 299-5119, [email protected]

Posted: May 27, 2022