Success Stories

Michigan’s Inter-Agency Partnership in Action 

Michigan State Advisors on Adolescent Sexual Health (SAASH) (Laurie Bechhofer, Department of Education, Grants Coordination and School Support, Kyle Guerrant, Department of Education, Grants Coordination and School Support, Kris Judd, Department of Community Health, Division of Health, Wellness and Disease Control, Debra Szwejda, Department of Community Health, Division of Health, Wellness and Disease Control, Carrie Tarry, Department of Community Health, Division of Family & Community Health, Ellen Ives, Michigan Organization for Adolescent Sexual Health (MOASH)) 

In 2005, representatives from the Michigan Department of Community Health (Adolescent Health Unit, STD Unit, and HIV/AIDS Prevention and Intervention Section) and the Michigan Department of Education Coordinated School Health Program & Safety Program Unit came together at the National Stakeholders Meeting to forge a dynamic state-level, inter-agency partnership to improve adolescent reproductive and sexual health outcomes among school-aged youth in Michigan. Out of this initial meeting, the team created Michigan’s State Advisors on Adolescent Sexual Health (SAASH). The level of collaboration around sexual health that has developed among offices, departments, and external organizations at the state level in Michigan—fostered by the work of SAASH and sustained by the National Stakeholders Collaborative—is truly outstanding. Especially now, during this time of new grant opportunities and an increased focus on adolescent sexual health, this group has proven to be invaluable. 

SAASH collaborates in areas including policy development, grant programs, service delivery, curricula development, and parent engagement. The team’s accomplishments include supporting the state’s Talk Early and Talk Often initiative reinforcing the parental role in sex education, and the development of A Silent Crisis, a resource guide and training for school districts to ensure safe schools for youth regardless of sexual orientation. In January 2009, the SAASH team participated in the National Stakeholders Meeting Reconvene to take their collaborative efforts to the next level. The SAASH team built a successful partnership with the newly formed statewide organization, Michigan Organization on Adolescent Sexual Health (MOASH), to:

 

          Update a landmark report developed in 2007, The State of Adolescent Health in Michigan, which provides data and an analysis of program gaps to assist local agencies with better targeting their efforts, and justification for the Legislature to fund enhanced adolescent reproductive and sexual health programs (the paper can be found on the MOASH, MDE, and MDCH websites);

          Launch an evaluation strategy for MY Voice statewide youth advisory council on adolescent sexual health; and,

         Create a sustainable team infrastructure and add additional stakeholders to SAASH, including several new colleagues representing the Michigan Department of Community Health Bureau of Substance Abuse and Addiction Services and Family Planning.

 

Overall, through the participation in the National Stakeholders Meetings and ongoing commitment to improving adolescent reproductive and sexual health, the SAASH group has developed strong relationships between state departments, which have fostered a synergistic energy to create and sustain positive, holistic programs for youth. 

The National Stakeholders Meetings are hosted by the National Stakeholders Collaborative (NSC), a partnership between the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (AMCHP), the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD), the National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD), and the Society of State Directors of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation (Society). The NSC is supported through cooperative agreements with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Adolescent and School Health.

 

Partnering to Prevent Teen Pregnancy and Promote Evidence-based Approaches in Pennsylvania

By Kelly L. Holland

Public Health Program Manager, State Adolescent Health Coordinator

Pennsylvania Department of Health

Partnering and Promoting

Pennsylvania’s Maternal and Child Health program partnered with the Pennsylvania Coalition to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, the Pennsylvania Department of Education and two local health Bureaus, Allentown and Bethlehem, to raise awareness of both the issue of teen pregnancy prevention and evidence-based approaches to teen pregnancy prevention.  The group participated in the AMCHP and NACCHO sponsored Linking Evidence and Practice: Enhancing State & Local Health and Education Partnerships to Promote Evidence-based Approaches to Teen Pregnancy, HIV and STI Prevention Project supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Division of Adolescent and School Health and the Division of Reproductive Health.  The group conducted two one-day trainings for school teachers and nurses.  The first training, Evidence-based Approaches to Teen Pregnancy, HIV, and STI Prevention Training, was conducted in September 2009.  The follow-up training, “Sex Ed 101” was conducted in March 2010.  

Lessons Learned

The Pennsylvania team took several steps to ensure these trainings were well attended.  

 

·         Pick the right partner.  Partnering with the Department of Education (PDE) lent validation to the training and education regarding teen pregnancy and STI, HIV prevention.  Having support from the PDE let the schools know this was appropriate for a school setting. 

·         Budget appropriately. When working with schools, the Pennsylvania team found it helpful to include funds in their budget to reimburse the schools for the cost of substitute teachers and/or nurses.  The Pennsylvania team heard repeatedly, and responded accordingly, that providing reimbursements for substitutes made it an easier for school teachers and nurses to gain approval from school administrators.

·         Provide trainings for no or low-cost and include a copy of materials and/or curricula as part of participation in the training. The trainings were offered for free and for the “Sex Ed 101” training a copy of the curriculum was provided to each participant.   

Challenges

The project wasn’t without challenges! 

·         Getting decision-makers to the table. The Pennsylvania team found that the main barrier to working with schools was getting the buy-in from school administrators on the importance of using an evidence-based approach.  School administrators were invited to the training on evidence-based approaches but no school administrators actually attended the training, choosing to send teachers or school nurses instead, who in turn indicated that their school administrators needed to buy-in to the concept.  The teachers also stated that to implement an evidence-based program with fidelity they would need to re-vamp their entire health curriculum which would require approval and buy-in from their individual School Board. 

  

Utah’s Preconception Health and Adolescents Action Learning Collaborative Partnership

 

By Lois Bloebaum, MPA, BSN

Manager, Reproductive Health Program

Utah Department of Health

 

Jenny Mayfield, MS, CHES

Adolescent Health Coordinator

Utah Department of Health  

Utah created a team to participate in AMCHP’s Preconception Health and Adolescents Action Learning Collaborative that began in 2009. The team is comprised of representatives from the Utah Department of Health, Salt Lake City School District, Planned Parenthood Association of Utah, and Utah State Office of Education. Through this strong partnership the Utah team has been able to leverage the strengths and expertise of all of the team members to focus on integrating preconception health concepts into the Utah State Office of Education Secondary Health Core Curriculum. Through this initiative the team is committed to increasing knowledge about the importance of life planning for improving reproductive and overall health outcomes among teens. In order to accomplish the goals, the team has undertaken activities to raise awareness about preconception health concepts among Utah high school health teachers. The team planned meetings and sought input and feedback from a select group of high school health teachers to identify how they could best meet the teachers’ learning needs in this area. They enlisted this group of high school health teachers to help develop a set of “Essential Questions” related to the areas of the core health curriculum. These questions will serve as guides to assure that critical areas of the health curriculum are addressed. The Utah team also enlisted a select group of Utah Department of Health content specialists to help in the development of the Essential Questions and to provide reliable, scientific resources for Utah health teachers’ electronic “toolbox.” The culmination of these efforts was a presentation of the final Essential Questions to teachers with an overview of preconception health and the ALC process during a general session at the Utah Secondary Health Teacher Education Conference/Training in St. George, UT. The Utah team also conducted a breakout session entitled Plan your Health, Live Your Life, which provided information about preconception health along with the Teen Life Plan resource developed by the Utah Department of Health.  

The team hopes that the development of the Essential Questions and incorporation of preconception health concepts into the health curriculum will enhance Utah high school health teachers understanding of and ability to teach these critical issues to Utah youth.  

To learn more about this Utah collaborative project please Save the Date for AMCHP’s Adolescent Health Information Series Webinar on Wednesday, June 23 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. (EDT). Additional details coming soon.