The National MCH Workforce Development Center: Building a Workforce to Support Transformation

By Dorothy Cilenti, DrPH
Principal Investigator and Director, National MCH Workforce Development Center, UNC Gillings School of Public Health

Lacy Fehrenbach, MPH, CPH
Director of Programs, AMCHP

In September 2013, the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB), Division of Workforce and Leadership Development awarded the University of North Carolina’s (UNC) Gillings School of Global Public Health $5.5 million to develop and implement a National MCH Workforce Development Center (the Center). This investment is among the largest, if not the largest, investment ever made in the Title V workforce and represents MCHB's commitment to helping states and territories succeed in their efforts to improve the health and well-being of women, children, and families. UNC engaged partners from AMCHP, the Catalyst Center, National Academy of State Health Policy, Center for Public Health Quality, National Implementation Research Network, University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Kentucky, and Howard University in the design and implementation of the Center.

The National MCH Workforce Development Center aims to strengthen the capacity of Title V agencies to be the "go to" leaders in their states and territories for the Maternal and Child Health population in the context of health reform. The Center will provide an integrated set of training, coaching and consultation to support states and territories in implementing and sustaining effective change in the context of health reform. The Center's work focuses on four core areas: access to care, quality improvement, systems integration, and change management and is also aligned with MCH 3.0. You can learn more about the center here.

Title V practitioners directly inform the Center's work via a comprehensive needs assessment and an advisory committee. The needs assessment began in November and involves secondary and primary data analysis, including key informant interviews with select states. The Center also has an advisory committee that represents the Title V workforce and key partners, such as Medicaid. It includes MCH and CYSHCN directors, family leaders, and program leaders (e.g., adolescent health or infant mortality coordinators), among others.

2013 was about exploration, planning, and forming. 2104 is about installation, implementation and growth. The new year began with a highly successful launch at the AMCHP Conference on January 29. More than 53 representatives from 36 states participated. The launch provided a timely opportunity for Center staff to hear directly from the states about their workforce development challenges. Center staff also shared and requested feedback from states on preliminary findings from the needs assessment and plans for how the Center will provide training and technical assistance to states and territories. AMCHP also unveiled Transformation Station, which houses all Center programming and resources.

Moving forward, the center will provide three levels of training and technical assistance to the MCH workforce and its partners:

  • Universal training in the form of webinars, archived e-learning modules, conference sessions, publications, etc will be available for all Title V staff and MCH trainees related to the four core areas of access, quality improvement, systems integration, and change management. The four cores have already posted a number of universal resources on Transformation Station. Over the year, we will curate additional content and develop new programming for states and territories based on feedback from the launch, needs assessment, and advisory committee.
  • The center will also provide targeted training for self-selected Title V staff and partners. This programming will also relate to the four core areas and provide opportunities for peer-to-peer learning and development.
  • We are also excited to provide intensive technical assistance to states and territories and currently have a request for participation open for the first cohort of states to engage with the Center. In the first cohort, the Center will engage 8-10 states and/or territories where our support may create new opportunities for Title V involvement in health reform, expand and scale successful multi-agency partnerships, and supplement ongoing or planned work over an 18 month period. Additional state/territory intensive TA cohorts will follow over the three-year project.

Finally, the center features a pipeline program to train and link future MCH professionals to Title V programs through a paired practicum experience for undergraduate and graduate students. The pipeline project will launch in Summer 2014..

All Center trainings, resources, and technical assistance will be advertised via Transformation Station, this newsletter, the AMCHP Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter feeds, and direct e-mails to AMCHP members.