From the President

Making a Difference for Children and Families

By Phyllis Sloyer, President, AMCHP  

Welcome to this issue of Pulse. Many of you are returning from our Annual Conference and I hope that you found it to be successful and full of valuable information. The quality of our work was evident in the various workshops and poster sessions. I personally found it invigorating to listen to speakers who sparked my enthusiasm and excitement about the future of our maternal and child health world. It was especially rewarding to acknowledge those who have contributed so much to the advancement of maternal and child health issues, including our legislative champions and keynote speakers. Now that we have completed our conference — our thoughts turn to some of the future activities of AMCHP — and frankly, to some of our concerns, including workforce issues and the impact of health reform on women and children, particularly children and youth with special health care needs (CYSHCN). This issue of Pulse focuses on these two key areas. 

One of the important issues we face today and into the future is our workforce capacity and capability. I distinctly remember Dr. Magda Peck asking how many people in our plenary session audience were under the age of 30. Wouldn’t it be phenomenal to increase by three or four fold that number next year? But it means that we have to figure out ways to attract individuals to the maternal and child health community and provide them with the skills needed to operate a 21st-century public health system. One of AMCHP’s goals supports strong and effective leadership at all levels of our health system. In partnership with other organizations, we have conducted a broad-based survey of the current workforce and future needs. Our next step is to participate with our partners, in particular the training institutions, in developing strategies that will attract and train maternal and child health leaders.  

Speaking of next steps, the future of our health system landscape is yet to be fully articulated or decided. When discussions around health reform occurred in the 1990s, thankfully we had the voices of families to guide us in terms of the system of services that needed to be in place for CYSHCN. Through the efforts of Family Voices, a clear set of principles and criteria were established for health reform that were based on the tenets set forth in the Title V MCH Block Grant; tenets that call for a coordinated, family-centered, system of care for CYSHCN. We stand by those principles and the belief that no health system will be effective if it is doesn’t appropriately address the needs of all children, including children and youth with special health care needs, including successful transition to all aspects of adult life. AMCHP, through its partnership with Family Voices and other organizations, will monitor, respond, and actively participate in activities that seek to assure CYSHCN are effectively addressed in health reform.  

I am immensely proud of our talented membership, Board of Directors, and AMCHP staff and encourage your active participation in the association this year. Together we can make a difference for children and families!