By Melody Cherny
Program Associate, Children with Special Health Care Needs, AMCHP
Program Manager, Child Health, AMCHP
Program Manager, Adolescent Health, AMCHP
Mentoring relationships can provide MCH professionals with the opportunity to gain wisdom and input and evolve their thinking about the issues that affect them. A key feature of this relationship is that an experienced individual helps another achieve his or her goals and develop as a person (Center for Health Leadership & Practice, Guide for Mentors, 2003). Recognizing this benefit, AMCHP supports mentoring and workforce development through a variety of mechanisms. The New Director Mentor Program, the Peer-to- Peer Exchange Program and AMCHP support of state abstinence programs are three examples of work AMCHP champions to strengthen leadership development through mentoring.
New Director Mentor Program
The AMCHP New Director Mentor Program (NDMP) provides new Title V directors with information, tools and resources necessary to succeed and grow as Title V administrators. During the program, new directors complete 12 self-directed modules based on the MCH Leadership Competencies. The program also offers a bridge for new MCH professionals to connect with seasoned MCH directors. New directors have regular contact with their mentors on a monthly basis to seek guidance, resource and support, as well as to foster a relationship with their mentor. We asked recent NDMP graduate – Bradley Planey, MS, MA, Arkansas Department of Health – to offer his thoughts on the benefits of mentoring:
"I recently completed the New Director Mentor Program. I had the good fortune to have Suzanna Dooley as my mentor. Suzanna was great at sharing her experiences and sorting through the practices that have proved effective for her. From these, I was able to compare and borrow from her experience. For example, Suzanna made me aware that it is possible to have a close partnership with state Medicaid and what benefits that can mean to having a more coherent approach to improving the health of women and children. I have since redoubled my efforts in this area and already see the benefit.
Having the chance to learn from someone else’s experience, especially when they are freely offering it to you, is an opportunity that should not be passed up. I found it to be a good learning experience, but also good for my sense of well-being. By well-being I mean my self-confidence and the knowledge that you are not alone in the problems and challenges you face. We all can benefit from that kind of help."
More information about the New Director Mentor Program is available here.
Peer-to-Peer Exchange Program
The State Public Health Autism Resource Center (SPHARC) Peer-to-Peer Exchange Program is a community of learners program that allows states to
learn from one other about building systems of care for children and youth with autism spectrum disorders, share lessons learned and best practices, and develop action plans. The program links states based on common needs and state plan goals and provides a tailored technical assistance model around the MCHB Six Critical Indicators of Quality for a System of Care for Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs.
To date, six exchanges have taken place on the following topics: transition, medical home, screening, cultural competency, family involvement and positive youth development. Among the key components of the program are a series of topical calls, a site visit to the peer leader state and follow-up topical calls and evaluation. All materials and resources from past exchanges have been archived on the SPHARC website.
State Mentoring and Youth Leadership Development Programs
The New York State Department of Health incorporates mentoring as a successful strategy in adolescent pregnancy prevention programs. A number of studies have shown that mentoring is an effective way to help youth develop healthy behaviors. Mentors, serving as adult role models, can address the antecedents of sexual activity and other risk factors, including lower school performance, lack of parental communication or support, depression, substance abuse, or sexual abuse. Mentoring and/or small group education sessions can provide more in-depth coverage of specific topics and a greater opportunity for modeling and practicing healthy behaviors and appropriate responses to pressures to initiate sexual activity.
The New York State Department of Health will use funding made available through the Title V State Abstinence Education Grant Program (AEGP) to address a critical area of need among preteen youth. Funds will support community-based programs that will provide mentoring, counseling, and adult supervision activities targeted toward high-risk youth, ages 9 to12, living in high-need communities in the state. Creating such a program initiative will extend the current continuum in New York of services designed to reduce teen pregnancies, promote sexual health, and assist in the healthy transition to adolescence and adulthood for young New Yorkers.
These programs, designed to help young people acquire and strengthen developmental assets within a youth development framework, hold great promise in aiding their healthy transition to adulthood, including delaying the initiation of sexual activity.
Acting on evidence that mentorship and positive
youth development, including leadership development, strengthen connectedness and resilience in youth, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) supports various mentorship and leadership programs for adolescents. The DHSS Adolescent Health Program and Comprehensive Tobacco Control Program collaboratively promote and lead positive youth development opportunities with various partners across the state. One example is Missouri’s Youth Adult Alliance (MYAA), a network empowering youth to make healthy decisions about alcohol and other drugs. MYAA partners recruit young leaders to serve as Youth Ambassadors to plan and implement prevention practices and programs, as well as an annual statewide youth conference. Youth Ambassadors are also expected to serve in leadership roles within their community and represent the alliance at conferences, media events and other types of engagements. For more information, visit the MYAA website.
In addition, this summer, Kansas City, Missouri will be the location of the National Conference on Tobacco or Health, which will feature a strong youth engagement aspect. Through several funding sources, including collaborative chronic disease and MCH grants, DHSS tobacco and adolescent health programs are covering registration and expenses for high school and college students to attend the conference, which convenes national and regional public health leaders to strategize, learn about, and implement best practices and policies to reduce tobacco use. As part of their participation, the students will be mentored by state tobacco control leaders to take a leadership role in tobacco control and prevention in their communities and to contribute to statewide efforts.