Old Yolo

Aging archives at risk in one of California’s oldest pre-statehood counties

Two often-overlooked sectors of Yolo County government are in dire need of technological upgrades, according to a new grand jury report.

The grand jury concluded that Yolo County’s Child, Youth and Family Branch is hindered by an outdated data entry system. It also found the county’s archives are stored in an inadequately temperature-controlled building, causing old newspapers and county documents to fall apart. The report called upon the Yolo County Board of Supervisors to accelerate funding for, and mend, each issue.

Due to a database that’s more than 20 years old, Child, Youth and Family Branch social workers spend about five hours per case—nearly half of their time—entering data, the report found. Grand jury foreperson Pro Tem Lynn DeLapp noted the county’s child welfare department’s strong output of late, despite being thwarted by the lack of analytics, staff and technological resources.

The report comes on the heels of several highly publicized child deaths related to extreme child abuse in Yolo County. On New Year’s Eve 2017, two young girls were killed by their father in a murder-suicide, and in September 2017, three young children were strangled to death by their father. Both incidents occurred in West Sacramento.

The county’s archive collection also needs modernization. The report called on Yolo County’s archives coordinator and the Board of Supervisors to provide funding for a scanner and a digital asset management system by October this year. It also found a need for the county to mitigate the library’s environmental problems by 2025 and build a new library entirely by 2035.

Archives and records coordinator Heather Lanctot thinks the county’s unique history should give officials reason to meet those deadlines.

“[The county is] one of the original 27 counties in the state,” Lanctot said. “Our records are fairly complete. You can get a continuous history of the county. We have the Board of Supervisors minutes all the way back to 1849—pre-statehood.”