From the CEO

 

The Year Ahead and the Year in Review 

By Mike R. Fraser, PhD  

Happy New Year from AMCHP! I hope you had the chance to greet the New Year with family and friends and took time to rest and reenergize to prepare for what promises to be a very busy year for maternal and child health. Here’s a belated New Year’s toast: Let’s raise a glass for continued success and increased support of our shared work and in strengthening and improving state maternal and child health programs, cheers! 

This issue of Pulse is a first for AMCHP. Not only is it our first issue of 2009, it is also our first virtual “Annual Report.” We are using this issue to share some of last year’s important milestones and provide a snapshot of what we are looking forward to in 2009. Next month’s Pulse will be slightly different too: we’ll be featuring some of the great content that is on our 2009 AMCHP Annual Conference program including resources and references for those of you who may not be able to attend the Conference in person. We hope these two issues of Pulse are useful to you, and provide you the information you need to further advance MCH in the year ahead while learning just how AMCHP is “on the move” on your behalf here in Washington, D.C. and across the country. Future issues of Pulse will continue to focus topically on areas of importance to you and your programs including adolescent health, autism spectrum disorder, state-local collaboration on MCH, infant mortality, and many others. 

There is a lot in store for AMCHP in 2009. Our advocacy and policy team will continue the push for full funding for the Title V MCH Services Block Grant. We’ll be supporting reauthorizations of several important maternal and child health programs including SCHIP and WIC. And we’ll be informing health care reform by including the important work of Title V programs as we participate in discussions about potential changes in our nation’s health care system. AMCHP’s Director of Policy, Brent Ewig, prepared a feature for this issue of Pulse that summarizes our legislative and policy progress in 2008 and sets the stage for 2009. We are well positioned to make the case for increased investments in state maternal and child health programs and we’ll be working hard with partners early in the year to monitor the 2009 and 2010 federal budget appropriations for maternal and child health. If your New Year’s resolution was to get more involved in AMCHP and our advocacy efforts we could certainly use your help – contact any member of our policy team for more information on ways you can get involved! 

In addition to policy, AMCHP’s program team has developed resources, tools, issue briefs, and reports to inform your work and share your successes with colleagues and peers nationwide. Lauren Raskin Ramos, AMCHP’s Director of Programs, highlights just some of what we have accomplished in 2008 in her article in this issue of Pulse. 2009 promises to be a banner year for a number of our core programs, including our New Director Mentor program, our newly funded work to support states funded through the Combating Autism Act Initiative, work to promote adolescent, women’s and infants health, and projects to enhance state MCH epidemiology capacity. If your New Year’s resolution was to learn more about what other states do in these areas we have great resources to share with you and if you would like to contribute a best practice or two to our Best Practices program, please let our program staff know. We need your input and involvement to assure your colleagues have access to all the great work you do at the state and local levels. 

In 2008, we redesigned our website and newsletters and improved how we communicate with members and partners via email notices and updates. We have invested a great deal in technology to better connect you to one another – look for more information about our AMCHP SharePoint groups early in 2009. These SharePoint workspaces will allow MCH regions to work together “virtually” and enhance how you connect with AMCHP members and partners on projects in the future. We will be rolling out our SharePoint sites in conjunction with our Annual Conference in February. 

If you did not have a chance to visit our offices in 2008, we invite you to come to our brand new headquarters in 2009 – wonderful space for small meetings, get-togethers and your “home away from home.” Other operational changes in 2008 included enhancing our organizational performance by hiring several new staff and using technology to better support our membership, accounting and Annual Conference activities. These “backend” systems are often invisible to you as members and partners but improve how we are able to support you and run an efficient and effective operation. Thank you for your patience as we updated and improved our membership database, website and phone and computer systems. 

A member and I were chatting last week about all the work we have done in 2008. “What are you most excited about in 2009?” she asked. I thought about it briefly and then said “seeing all the great seeds we have planted in 2008 start to sprout, grow and bear fruit.” We laid a lot of groundwork in 2008, and I think 2009 will be a great harvest year for AMCHP in both policy and program successes. But we cannot do it alone, and I urge all of you to get more involved with our work: attend our Conference, let us know what you are thinking and doing in your state programs, and contribute to a workgroup, committee or call for applications.  

As we celebrate all that we accomplished in 2008, I look forward to a busy 2009! Please continue to let us know how we are doing, what more would be helpful, and how the work that AMCHP does can better support your programs. Happy New Year!