Nebraska's Systems for Adolescents


Nebraska Comprehensive Systems for Adolescents: The Next Link in the Life Course Approach 

By Linda Henningsen
Adolescent Health Coordinator, Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services 

For those of us in and connected to public health, providing for and reaching children and adolescents (and those who care for them) requires unique approaches. Through the development, implementation and impact of the national Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems (ECCS) initiative, Nebraska’s ECCS program, “Together for Kids and Families” (TFKF), provided the inspiration and supplied the innovative and unique model needed for effectively addressing the public health opportunities and challenges associated with adolescents. Expanding the comprehensive systems model from the early childhood population to the adolescent population was the logical next step in Nebraska’s life course approach to public health programs and services.  

Supported by the data mini grant funds awarded by AMCHP and using Nebraska‘s ECCS model, the Adolescent Health Program within the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, Lifespan Health Services Unit launched the “Comprehensive Systems for Adolescents” (CSA) initiative. In March 2009 a stakeholders group was convened for the initiative kick-off meeting. The gathering was facilitated by Kristin Teipel from Minnesota’s Konopka Institute with 25 people representing government agencies, family organizations and other entities from across the state in attendance. Work began on identifying a profile of optimal adolescent development and well-being as well as identifying components or “domains” that would ideally represent a “comprehensive” system for adolescents. These domains were based on the profile created and the national ECCS model. We were honored to have Sharron Corle, Associate Director for Adolescent Health at AMCHP here to observe and help with the day.  

Ongoing and continued refinement of the domains is currently in progress, and a “S.W.A.T.” team is being organized for the task of completing a simple analysis of each domain using the “SWOT” (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) format. The products of the analysis will provide the information needed to develop logic models that drive our future work. While the “launch” was successful, additional components of the initiative now need development. Members of the stakeholders group are being recruited for a “ground crew” that will be charged with developing the CSA initiative’s organizational fundamentals including mission, vision, core functions and guiding principles. Using the products of the adolescent profile and domains created and identified during the stakeholders meeting, goals/outcomes will be identified as well. These outcomes will lay the ground work for the next steps of the CSA initiative which includes identifying indicators and data gathering and management.  

Nebraska’s CSA initiative is a work in progress. The on-going recruitment of state-level and local programs, youth representatives and other organizations as initiative partners as well as further refinement of the initiative components demonstrates the commitment, dedication and passion of all those contributing to the health, development and well-being of Nebraska children and adolescents. We would like to thank AMCHP for providing the support and to Kristin Teipel of the Konopka Institute for the guidance and expertise in the successful launch of Nebraska’s “Comprehensive Systems for Adolescents” initiative.