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 A Look Back at AMCHP Programs in 2011

By Lauren Raskin Ramos, MPH
Director of Programs, AMCHP

With contributions from the AMCHP Program Team

2011 was another busy year for AMCHP staff working to support state Title V programs and advance the AMCHP strategic plan by providing resources, technical assistance, analysis and training to Title V programs. Throughout the year, AMCHP enhanced efforts to support state implementation of the life course perspective; supported peer-to-peer exchange among states to build systems of care for children and youth with autism and other developmental disabilities; provided ongoing capacity-building for state MCH epidemiology programs; supported state innovation in adolescent health; grew Innovation Station by collecting and disseminating best practices in MCH; and provided leadership development for new Title V directors and family leaders. Importantly, AMCHP also strengthened evaluation efforts across the organization supporting continuous quality improvement to ensure that our work is relevant and timely for state Title V programs. A snapshot of key activities to support our strategic goals follows.

Strategic Goal: Improve maternal and child health outcomes by promoting a life course perspective and sharing effective and promising practices with state and territorial MCH programs.

This past year, we made strides in understanding effective and promising practices that states can use for measuring preconception health. Our activities included a scan of the Title V Information System for measurement practices, an online assessment of states about the use of the Core Preconception Health Indicators and a site visit to a state demonstrating leadership in measuring preconception health.

Throughout 2011, AMCHP collected and disseminated promising and evidence-based practices in women’s and infant health through conference sessions, webinars and issue briefs.

  • AMCHP supported quarterly Women’s Health Information Series webinars to showcase promising and evidence-based practices in women’s and infant health, highlighting federal and national initiatives and resources, and allowing discussion of related policy and research. Webinar topics this year included:
    • Text4baby: State Enrollment Contest Kick-Off Webinar for AMCHP Members.
    • Infant Sleep Position and Bed Sharing: Using PRAMS to Impact Programs and Policy.
    • A Year of Progress Utilizing the Less Than 39 Weeks Toolkit: Building Successful Partnerships with clinicians, health departments and the March of Dimes Webinar.
    • American Academy of Pediatrics Task Force SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Expansion of Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment.
  • AMCHP hosted three conference sessions on reproductive and infant health at the 2011 AMCHP Annual Conference. Session topics were: 1) Promoting MCH and Chronic Disease Program Collaboration: Practical Tools and Perspectives (this session will highlight Activity 4.1b); 2) New Developments in Federal and State Breastfeeding Policies and Programs; and 3) Innovative Approaches for Integrating Preconception Health Concepts into Adolescent Health.

In 2011, to aid maternal and child health and chronic disease collaboration, AMCHP:

  • Partnered with the Division of Reproductive Health Applied Science Branch/Research and Evaluation Team and the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors (NACDD) Women’s Health Council to pilot a project with three states (MO, OH and WV) using an Action Learning Collaborative (ALC) model to support collaboration and integration between MCH and chronic disease programs for early prevention of chronic diseases. This project is focusing on enhancing gestational diabetes awareness; treatment and follow-up as a topic area to improve project collaboration and partnership between MCH and chronic disease leaders; prevent or delay onset of type-two diabetes; improve birth outcomes; and promote women’s health across the lifespan.

AMCHP grew and enhanced Innovation Station, the AMCHP best practices program by reviewing new practices and creating tools and resources to facilitate easy submission. Currently, Innovation Station includes 39 programs and continues to grow.

  • Six new programs were accepted into Innovation Station and three existing programs received designations to raise them to a higher category. These newly accepted programs were highlighted in AMCHP publications and on the AMCHP website.
  • AMCHP honored Illinois’ La Vida Sana with a Promising Practice award at the 2011 conference.
  • AMCHP developed new resources to help programs determine if they were ready to submit to Innovation Station and prepare their submission. AMCHP also developed internal tools and tutorials for staff so they are better able to recognize and solicit successful submissions at conferences, meetings and during state block grant reviews. AMCHP increased efforts to recruit submission through a targeted marketing campaign (via publications, listservs, Regional calls, partner meetings, etc.) that focused on monthly topics and through focused outreach by AMCHP staff.
  • AMCHP launched evaluation efforts to assess the usefulness and effectiveness of the program in helping Title V programs strengthen their capacity to improve MCH status. 
  • In November, we had the opportunity to highlight two Innovation Station programs during a National Initiative for Children’s Healthcare Quality (NICHQ) Collaborate for Healthy Weight webinar, which featured our best practices program, highlighting practices that addressed healthy weight in Latino populations.

In order to support state efforts to implement a life course perspective, AMCHP:

  • Hosted two town hall-style meetings (in September 2010 and February 2011), with CityMatCH, for key MCH leaders and practitioners interested in and currently developing life course-focused programming. These town hall events explored applying the life course perspective, social determinants of health and health equity concepts to everyday MCH practice, while promoting in-depth discussions about the three essential elements of the MCHB Concept Paper: knowledge base, program and policy strategies, and political will.
  • Released a summary report, with CityMatCH, Moving the Life Course Work Forward: Recommendations from the Life Course Town Hall Meetings.
  • Worked with the Emerging Issues Committee to assess what resources exist to help state Title V programs incorporate a life course perspective into their work. The goal is to offer a forum to share existing resources among states and determine areas of need or gaps that could develop into future projects.
  • Held discussions with the Workforce & Leadership Development Committee on life course perspective and its implications for the MCH workforce.

To share effective and promising practices on children and youth with special health care needs over the past year, AMCHP has:

  • Provided direct technical assistance to 35 states through autism funding from HRSA and CDC.
  • Strengthened the State Public Health Autism Resource Center (SPHARC) by highlighting additional state resources, news stories on autism, state spotlights and resources from its Peer-to-Peer Exchange program.
  • Identified promising practices through two publications: 1) Roles for State Title V Programs: Building Systems of Care for Children and Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Other Developmental Disabilities; and 2) Environmental Scan: How State Title V Programs are Responding to Autism Spectrum Disorder and Other Developmental Disabilities. The first publication highlighted state Title V program efforts to address the increasing numbers of children identified and diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities (ASD/DD). The second publication highlighted activities among states to address ASD/DD, provided insights into approaches that state Title V programs are taking to address the growing incidence of ASD/DD, and catalogued ASD/DD activities that fit within the framework of the Maternal and Child Health Bureau Critical Indicators for CYSHCN.
  • Through funding from the CDC National Center for Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD), provided grants to state teams led by a public health entity to support the collaboration of Act Early teams and to further activities related to incorporating the Learn the Signs. Act Early. (LTSAE) materials and messages into public health planning. Ten states were chosen to receive grant funds and technical assistance webinars were held throughout the year. A second round of CDC Learn the Signs. Act Early. State Systems Grants were awarded to 10 states in November, with a primary focus on partnerships with early childhood programs.

To advance adolescent health outcomes, AMCHP:

  • Completed the Preconception Health and Adolescents Action Learning Collaborative with six states who worked to implement preconception health efforts into their adolescent and young adult health efforts – state success stories can be viewed on the AMCHP You Tube Channel.
  • Hosted the Preconception Health and Adolescents Symposium at the AMCHP 2011 Annual Conference.
  • Disseminated two documents in the Youth Document Series: Adolescent Reproductive & Sexual Health and Mental Health.
  • Convened three adolescent health related webinars: Awareness, Inclusion, and Prevention: How to Resonate with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Questioning (LGBQ) Youth about Sexual Health Issues – a two-part series: Strategies for Creating LGBTQ Inclusive Anti-Bullying Policies at the State Level & Strategies for Addressing the Sexual Health Needs of Youth in Foster Care; and Positive Youth Development: Practical Applications for State Health and Education Agencies. 
  • Supported an adolescent health track at the AMCHP 2011 Annual Conference, including a general session: R U Effective? How well R U meeting the health needs of young people?; a skills-building session; two Knowledge Café sessions; two power sessions; and a number of adolescent health-related work shop sessions.

Strategic Goal: State and territorial MCH programs will have a diverse and effective workforce with competent leaders at the national, state and local levels.

Over the last year, AMCHP has conducted training and technical assistance to ensure that state and territorial MCH programs have a diverse and effective workforce with competent leaders. These efforts included:

  • Supporting the skills and capacity of the MCH epidemiology workforce, including three training sessions prior to the 17th Annual MCH Epidemiology Conference. These sessions included two-day trainings on Data Linkage and Knowledge Translation, and a one-day training on Scientific Writing. Overall, the training participants were very satisfied with the training (99 percent), they felt the tools were relevant to their work (100 percent), they felt they would be able to apply the training information to their work (96 percent) and that their knowledge about the techniques increased (100 percent).
  • Providing support to the MCH Epi Group, along with other sponsoring organizations, in order to improve communications between MCH epidemiologists working at both the state and local levels by assisting the development of a new website, mchepi.org.
  • Conducting leadership development training through the SPHARC Peer-to-Peer Exchange program. In March, AMCHP held a Peer-to-Peer Exchange in Salt Lake City, UT that addressed the topic of medical home for children and youth with autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disabilities. State Autism Implementation Grantees from AK, IL, ME, MO, NJ, NM, NY, RI and WI participated in the exchange. In June, AMCHP held a Peer-to-Peer Exchange in Chicago, Illinois that addressed the topic of using families to engage providers and cultural competency. State Autism Implementation Grantees from IL, NJ, UT, VT, WA and WI, and staff from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) participated in the exchange. Evaluation of the Peer-to-Peer Exchanges has been overwhelmingly positive, with 100 percent of participants rating themselves as satisfied, and 100 percent of participants rating the exchanges as relevant to their professional needs.
  • On Apr. 12, family leaders completed the inaugural 12-month Family Scholars Program (FSP). The FSP began a new program year in July. Currently, 11 scholars and three mentors are participating in the program, which includes monthly webinars and ‘stretch’ assignments on a selected topic related to Title V and the MCH competencies. Topics have included family involvement and Title V, strengths-based leadership, family-professional partnerships, policy and advocacy, writing your story, and life course perspectives.
  • Focusing the Family and Youth Leadership Committee (FYLC) on strengthening family leadership and engagement within AMCHP and Title V.
  • In February 2011, completing the first AMCHP Family Delegate (FD) survey; the data collected indicated that FDs want periodic contact to network and learn from each other. The survey also identified knowledge and skill sets that FDs indicate as important for family leaders, results include translating and communicating data, knowledge of program serving MCH populations, public speaking, and translating policy. As a result, the FYLC has established quarterly calls for the FDs and will hold one annual in-person event at the AMCHP annual conference.
  • Expanding its partnership with national family organizations, including Parent to Parent USA (P2P USA), who approved AMCHP as a board member.
  • Kicking off the New Director Mentor Program in 2011 at the AMCHP Annual Conference with eight pairs of new directors and mentors. 
  • Continuing to be an active partner to the Maternal and Child Health Public Health Leadership Institute (MCH PHLI). 
  • Supporting MCH engagement in public health accreditation. The 2011 AMCHP Annual Conference included a Knowledge Café session on this topic. AMCHP is also partnering with ASTHO on a pilot program to plan and implement quality improvement projects in MCH, Chronic Disease or Environmental Health programs and model how they would use the quality improvement results to satisfy documentation to meet public health accreditation standards and measures for state health agencies. 
  • Offering professional development opportunities to Title V programs through individual coaching sessions at the AMCHP annual conference. Over 30 MCH professionals participated and took advantage of this opportunity. 
  • Continuing dialogue to support youth involvement in AMCHP. The board of directors appointed a subgroup to discuss what youth involvement means at AMCHP and provide guidance in this area. This work is leading to strategic directions and a workplan to advance youth involvement in AMCHP. 
  • Launching the Ryan Colburn Scholarship Fund (RCSF) and selecting the first recipient in 2011. The scholarship is for outstanding youth leadership in the field of MCH and is specifically for a youth leader with special health care needs. AMCHP had five youth applicants for the RCSF and requested volunteer reviewers from the FYLC, FDs, and alumni and current participants of the FSP. The selected recipient has been matched with a mentor from the FYLC and will attend the annual conference. 
  • Establishing the Realityworks and Go Beyond MCH Graduate Student Scholarship in 2011. The scholarship was awarded to a graduate student in their last year of studies for demonstrating leadership involvement through academic excellence and practical experience in the field of MCH. A total of 35 applicants were reviewed and the recipient has been selected.

Strategic Goal: AMCHP will be an effective and efficient organization and partner in support of state and territorial MCH programs.

In order to be an effective and efficient organization and partner, supporting of state and territorial MCH programs, AMCHP has:

  • Partnered with the Catalyst Center to write a fact sheet titled, The Affordable Care Act and Children and Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other Developmental Disabilities. The purpose of the fact sheet is to provide an overview of select provisions in ACA that have implications for children with ASD/DD.
  • Planned, in partnership with the National Center for the Ease of Use of Community-Based Services, an ALC on the topic of "Ease of Use of Services for Latino Families who have Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs."
  • Convened an adolescent health strategy meeting with key public health organizations including ASTHO and NACCHO.
  • Supported the leadership team of the National Network of State Adolescent Health Coordinators.
  • Advanced evaluation efforts by implementing an evaluation and assessment plan, using a set of core evaluation questions across all activities.
  • Provided monthly reports to the Executive Committee on evaluation activities, fund development, organizational financial status, and program, policy and communications benchmarks.