National Stakeholders Meeting: Strengthening State Health and Education
Agency Partnerships to Integrate HIV, STD, and Pregnancy Prevention Among School Aged Youth
By Lissa Pressfield, MHS
Program Manager, Adolescent Health, AMCHP
In January 2009, the National Stakeholders Collaborative (NSC), a partnership between the Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs (AMCHP), National Alliance of State & Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD), National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD), Society of State Directors of Health, Physical Education & Recreation (Society), hosted the first-ever National Stakeholders Meeting Reconvene (NSM-R). State teams comprised of public health agency staff, education agency staff, and other partners — who previously participated in National Stakeholders Meetings — came together to take their collaborative efforts to the “next level.” The National Stakeholders Meetings (NSM), supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Adolescent and School Health (CDC-DASH), incorporates a two day capacity building process and nine to 12 months of follow-up technical assistance for state teams made up of NSC memberships. During the meetings, teams develop strategic partnerships, participate in knowledge and skills building workshops, and create action plans for collaborative work aimed at integrating and improving HIV, STD, and teen pregnancy prevention efforts in their states. The main objectives of the NSM model are to increase communication and collaboration between state health and state education agencies around HIV, STD and teen pregnancy prevention for school-aged youth, and expand the base of support for developing effective policies and programs.
Since 2003, 33 states have participated in an NSM. In the evaluation of past participants nearly all respondents reported the NSC strengthened communication and collaboration between state health and education agencies to support and improve HIV, STD, and pregnancy prevention for school-aged youth. The National Stakeholders Meeting Reconvene was designed from a qualitative and quantitative needs assessment to focus on building teams’ capacity in the following areas: incorporating a youth development approach; seeking and leveraging funding for collaborative projects; strengthening policy and advocacy strategies; addressing health and education disparities; implementing best practices; and engaging hard-to-reach youth. The teams also participated in an environmental scanning and action planning process. Four state teams participated in the NSM-R including: California, Kansas, Missouri and Michigan.
NSM-R State Stories
California. After their participation in the 2003 NSM, California created and institutionalized the Adolescent Sexual Health Workgroup (ASHWG). This group includes representatives from the state public health and education agencies, as well as local health and education agency representatives, Non-governmental organizations, and other adolescent health stakeholders. The focus of their work is on five priorities: 1) Improving availability and use of existing HIV, STD, and teen birth data; 2) Ensuring that educators, counselors and case managers deliver effective behavioral interventions; 3) Identifying, developing and promoting the use of culturally-appropriate, youth-focused sexual health curricula; 4) Improving adolescent access to sexual and reproductive health services; and 5) Identifying funding, policy recommendations, and other resources to support the group’s objectives.
Some of their successes include:
· Creating a Data Integration Subcommittee, which used existing surveillance data and produced STD, HIV/AIDS, and Teen Birth tables.
· Developing the Core Competencies for Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health for program and service providers.
· Developing criteria for STD, HIV, and teen pregnancy prevention education standards that is consistent with state statutes and identified best practices.
· Partnering with the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) to plan and conduct trainings in Sacramento and Los Angeles (Focusing on Youth in HIV and Sexuality Education: Cultural Competence and Youth Development) for providers.
· Increasing stakeholder representation in ASHWG.
The California ASHWG model has been so successful that the state of Hawaii is working to replicate it. Similarly, the Southern California Collaborative convened partners to discuss forming a Southern Regional Collaborative modeled on ASHWG to address issues specific to this region of the state.
Kansas. Kansas’ NSM-R team has committed to focusing on the following priority areas:
· Addressing disparities by outlining a referral process for African-American populations who test positive for HIV and STDs, and developing a data recording and sharing process.
· Incorporating a youth development approach by implementing a peer education process including a Youth Advisory Council (YAC).
· Engaging hard-to-reach youth in the peer education program and YAC.
· Conducting evaluations and assessment for their work.
The team was recently presented with a unique opportunity to work with the Pass it Forward program. Pass it Forward is a peer‑to‑peer education program promoted by the Department of Health and Human Services Center for Disease Control and Prevention that is built upon the inherited power of word-of-mouth marketing. The program aims to increase knowledge and awareness of HIV/AIDS, STDs, and related risk behaviors and improved communication, leadership, and skills among youth so they can make more well-informed decisions regarding their sexual health. The Kansas team is referring people from STD clinics into the Pass it Forward program, and working to develop a larger group of peer educators. Kansas is leveraging HIV funds from the Department of Education and passing them over to the Department of Health to use for incentives to get referrals for the peer education process.
Michigan. After the team participated in the 2005 NSM they created the State Advisors on Adolescent Sexual Health (SAASH) group. The group has successfully:
· Developed a white paper on the State of Adolescent Sexual Health in Michigan.
· Created a matrix of all relevant state initiatives around HIV/STD and teen pregnancy to better coordinate their efforts in these areas.
· Reworked the state data collection system to enable accurate comparison of local level health and education data and better target their efforts.
Now they are working on:
· Expanding stakeholder representation in the SAASH group to include family planning, foster care, juvenile justice, teen parent programs, and possibly immunization representatives.
· Developing and disseminating a statewide survey to assess how the SAASH White Paper was used by state and local partners to raise awareness and/or change policy around adolescent sexual health issues. The group will use this feedback to revise and update the white paper.
· Creating a Statewide YAC.
Missouri. The Missouri team has focused their collaborative work on the following:
· Identifying and serving youth who are not in traditional public school settings (e.g., juvenile centers, alternative schools, homeless).
· Completing an inventory of available comprehensive youth health care services for HIV and STD testing (and other health care services).
· Creating a directory of service providers.
· Coordinating data analysis between agencies (DHSS and DESE) to identify priority issues for advocacy and resource allocation.
· Promoting medically accurate education, characteristics of effective programs, and evidence-based approaches.
· Evaluating their pilot Youth Health Educator approach.
A recent success for the team is that the terminology “medically accurate” prior to “HIV/STI prevention education” has been recommended within the comprehensive health education definition for the new Missouri School Improvement Program standards.
To learn more about the National Stakeholders Collaborative, please contact Lissa Pressfield at (202) 775-0436.