Member states were asked the following question:
What tips or tools do you have for state health agencies looking to implement life course?
Administrator Lifespan Health Services Unit, Division of Public Health, NE Department of Health and Human Services, Lincoln, NE
To effectively implement a life course approach, the MCH practitioner must develop an understanding of the theory within the broader public health community and build working relationships with other disciplines that have a stake in improving population outcomes – such as behavioral health, child welfare and education. This requires that the MCH community find common ground and tools that make the approach relevant. In Nebraska, useful resources and activities have included:
- Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACES), which brings epidemiological validity to the concept for those who need "proof"
- Preventing Chronic Disease: A Strategic Framework (©National Public Health Partnership, Victoria, Australia, October 2001) as a template for developing working relationships with chronic disease programs
- Small projects that cross MCH and chronic disease on topics like gestational diabetes and the risk for Type 2 diabetes, to foster shared learning
- Replace the MCH pyramid with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) health impact pyramid as a more generalizable and accepted model among other public health professionals.
MCH practitioners must be willing to carry the life course "message" to a wide range of partners and work to make it real and meaningful. Only then will collaborative, effective strategies be realized.
PRAMS/TOTS Projects Manager
Public Health Social Work Coordinator
Change can be intimidating and overwhelming. Below are some steps Oklahoma used to help ease the transition into using life course approach in maternal and child health.
First, start by educating your staff about life course.
- Utilize the CityMatCH Life Course Game and Facilitator’s Kit as a tool to introduce concepts
- Know your audience – perhaps consolidate the plethora of life course information into basic, intermediate, and advanced knowledge and start at the level of your audience
- Theory is not meaningful without practical application – personalize training by using program specific examples and personal life reflection
Second, encourage staff to view the life course not as a foreign idea, but as a next step.
- Consider how life course is part of what MCH staff already does
- Brainstorm how to add life course concepts and ideas where they are not yet incorporated
Third, use the vocabulary consistently and often. Make it common terminology in your workplace.
- Pathways and Trajectories
- Risk and Protective Factors
- Early Programming
- Cumulative Impact
- Critical or Sensitive Periods