From the CEO
By Lori Tremmel Freeman, BS, MBA
Chief Executive Officer, AMCHP
The age-old saying, time flies when you’re having fun, certainly applies as we look back at 2015. This position with AMCHP and all that goes with it including working with our members, a super-talented and dedicated staff, and amazing partners is incredibly fulfilling, rewarding, and exhilarating (oh, and FUN!). Even when we at our most challenged – say, for example, when we have to cancel our premiere, showcase annual conference because Mother Nature decides to take a stand – there are always some gold nuggets that somehow appear under the murky waters! Since we did not get to be together in person for our annual AMCHP business meeting, I hope you’ll enjoy what is written here as I recap our journey together this past year and throw in for good measure my own hopes and wishes for 2016.
We continue to provide just the right value proposition to our members year after year. Our retention rate stays strong and this support allows us to continue to produce top-notch programs, services, technical assistance, and products that help you do your jobs in your states so that you can impact your populations. Making a difference to you is a priority of AMCHP. My wish for 2016? Please share what your biggest challenges are in your states and what you wish AMCHP could do to help you overcome those challenges.
Volunteer Association Committees
Our association and board committees are working for you, and they work HARD. AMCHP has strong Association and Board Committee participation, with a robust and growing volunteer workforce of nearly 150 AMCHP members. Earlier this year we released our volunteer training and orientation webinars to ensure all of our Committees – Annual Conference, Best Practices, Governance, Emerging Issues, Family and Youth Leadership, and Legislative Affairs and Health Care Financing -- possess the tools they need to succeed. My wish for 2016? That you contact me to join a Committee today – email me anytime with any level of interest!
Your AMCHP Board of Directors
Your Board of Directors, with broad regional, at-large, and family representation, commits extraordinary time towards ensuring AMCHP is a strong, viable organization. This year, more than any, you've seen the visible results of their work to engage members and inform the 2016-2018 Strategic Plan. That wasn't enough though. They also, with great care and thought, revised the AMCHP Vision, Mission, and Core Values. These are just two important (and large) examples of the immense list of items the Board has actively addressed in 2015. My wish for 2016? We have, with all of you, identified how AMCHP's new strategic goals and objectives align with those in your states and are actively seeking ways to leverage our work together to achieve measurable outcomes for our nation's moms, dads, kids, and families in their communities.
Partnership and Collaboration
If my first year with AMCHP was a whirlwind of meet and greets, my second year with AMCHP exceeded the first on all accounts! AMCHP is always seen as a strong collaborator and we sit at many, many tables. With our excellent staff, I am committed to maintaining this role. We were elated this past year to be honored with convening the first-ever MCH Collaboration Council comprised of more than 30 national partners working throughout the MCH system with support from HRSA/MCHB Partnership for State Title V Maternal and Child Health Leadership Community grant funding. This council recognizes that a variety of programs make up the network of foundational services that protect and promote the health and wellbeing of women, children, and families. If the leaders who support implementation of key MCH programs aligned behind shared goals, we could help significantly improve maternal and child health outcomes. My wish for 2016? The MCH Collaboration Council discovers new and exciting ways to thread our work together, to lower any barriers, and to show other industries how a diverse and broad group of organizations truly can come together for stronger impact to their profession.
Our numbers are expanding and we have a strong, expert 35-member staff. With this size of staff, change is inevitable as people grow and stretch their wings. Likewise, as the organization grows and stretches ITS wings, we often have to turn inward and explore if we have the correct supports in place to address our growing needs, our new strategic plan. Highlights from this year also included a strategic focus on leadership development and supervisor training opportunities. We also spent about three quarters of the year search for the new home of AMCHP after learning that 2030 M Street will soon be redeveloped. Just in time for the New Year, we finalized our search and are now drafting a new lease for our new DC location. My wish for 2016? We have an even stronger internal infrastructure, including a brand new communications function,that supports the organization's strategic goals and objectives.
As I looked back at 2014 successes in light of 2015, one word pops – PROGRESS! We wrapped the year with an amazing gain in net assets over our prior year AND a successful audit with not material findings. With the gain in net assets, we also managed to address and reverse a prior year audit finding related to successive budgeted deficits. Our work is never really done here though. Challenges always remain in implementing and maintaining sound budget practices, accountability, and long-term sustainability of funding. You may recall from last year that we worked hard to negotiate a strong early lease termination agreement and that will mitigate some of this year's office move expenses. However, we also have our work cut out for us and must closely management the office relocation since it is an extraordinary expense to any organization. My wish for 2016? We maintain our success rates with grant proposals, continue to build long-term sustainability by exploring other unrestricted funding, and that we have a beautiful new space to host our members, partners, and other constituencies.
Under the very capable leadership of Lacy Fehrenbach and her talented staff, we worked hard in 2015 to identify appropriate grant opportunities for AMCHP. We applied for 21 grant proposals worth $15.2M and were awarded 16 of those grants worth $13.5M (a tremendous 89% success)! Again, this work will NEVER be accomplished without all hands on deck. I cannot say it enough. We have a pretty amazing staff at AMCHP who work tirelessly to achieve these results. Please join me in thanking them always for their dedication, support, and can do attitudes. The Program Team's projects are fully supported and funded by our many, many partners some of whom are highlighted below. My wish for 2016? Our existing partners, and new partners, continue their commitment to MCH by placing faith and trust in AMCHP to carry out this vital work with the help of a truly stellar group of staff professionals at AMCHP.
Under the excellent direction of Erin Bonzon, Associate Director of our Women's and Infant Health Team; Treeby Brown, Associate Director of our Child and Adolescent Health Team; Caroline Stampfel, Associate Director of our Epidemiology and Evaluation Team; Stacy Collins, Associate Director of the Health Reform Implementation Team; and Sharron Corle, Associate Director of Workforce and Leadership Development, select highlights from the Program team's 2015 accomplishments follow.
- To support the development of skills in Quality Improvement (QI) that will assist AMCHP members with their participation in major national initiatives such as the Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Networks (CoIINs), AMCHP staff undertook three QI projects in the areas of virtual member engagement, tracking of emerging issues and technical assistance needs, and collection of best practices. To support their efforts, twenty staff completed QI training and coaching from staff at the Population Health Improvement Partners and participated in at least one of the QI teams. Additionally, we selected Jen Farfalla to become trained as a QI Advisor.
- AMCHP launched our new leadership development program: the Leadership Lab. The Leadership Lab seeks to build the leadership capacity of multiple levels of Title V staff: family leaders, epidemiologists, new directors, and next generation leaders. Participants are matched with a mentor/peer and charged with crafting an individual development plan, completing self-directed learning modules, participating in quarterly webinars, and peer-to-peer calls.
- Health for Every Mother: A Maternal Health Resource and Planning Guide for States was released. This guide was created in response to growing interest in women's health and troubling trends in U.S. maternal mortality and morbidity. The guide summarizes strategies and recommendations from more than 35 consensus statements, white papers, and reports from states and national partners. Intended to facilitate dialogue and planning, the guide includes assessment tools, a wealth of national resources, and implementation examples from more than 30 states. MCH leaders and consumers from 24 organizations were engaged as external reviewers for the guide.
- We are pleased to share that at least 31 states reported use of the National Standards for Improving Quality Systems of Care for CYSHCN to build partnerships with stakeholders, assist with strategic planning, including the development of five-year state action plans, improve the quality of care across systems serving CYSHCN, and promote policy and programmatic change. AMCHP has supported implementation of the standards via action learning collaboratives and targeted technical assistance. The Lucille Packard Foundation for Children's Health continues its support of the work to refine the Standards and facilitate further spread of their use.
- The Adolescent and Young Adult Health (AYAH) National Resource Center, which is housed at University of California San Francisco, in partnership with AMCHP, University of Minnesota, and University of Vermont, began supporting five multi-sector state teams, each of which includes a young adult, in a Collaborative CoIIN Network. The teams participated in two virtual learning sessions this summer and an in person meeting that featured presentations from national experts, training and facilitation of their states' development of a blueprint for change. Based on their state-specific plans, the CoIIN states chose national strategies around preventive services (access, uptake, quality, policies, and practices) on which they'll work collectively over the next 15 months.
- With support from the Lucile Packard Foundation and MCHB, AMCHP fielded a Title V family engagement survey. The survey, which included an MCH and CYSHCN version, was designed to identify barriers, best practices, and roles of family leaders within Title V programs. The results will be released later this month in series of reports: compensation & support, evaluation & impact, engagement in Title V Block Grant and Needs Assessment process, and recruitment (including diverse families), training, and institutionalization of family engagement in Title V programs.
- The National MCH Workforce Development Center, housed at UNC Chapel Hill in partnership, supported two additional cohorts of state teams working on health reform implementation projects. Additionally, the National Center sponsored a 2-day learning opportunity for state MCH leaders focused on change management themes related to health improvement for MCH populations. The Academy attracted 40 Scholars from 24 states and territories, representing all 10 DHHS regions. The Scholars' professional roles were diverse, including Title V directors, division and unit heads, as well as CYSHCN directors, staff members, and family representatives. The Academy featured presentations from Judith Monroe, Director of the Office of State, Tribal, Local, and Territorial Support at CDC and Brian Castrucci from the de Beaumont Foundation.
- AMCHP, in collaboration with the AIM consortium partners (AAP, ASTHO, NGA, NASHP, NCSL, and Altarum), hosted the AIM cohort I kickoff meeting for five state teams. The states' proposed projects focus on improvements in: immunization rates, systems of care for CYSHCN, and use of post-partum contraception. This two-day event featured presentations from national experts, panel discussions, and profiles of related state efforts. State teams were given dedicated time to work on action planning. AMCHP serves as the backbone organization for the AIM Consortium.
- AMCHP is currently increasing states' capacity to conduct economic analyses through two projects: the virtual Community of Practice for Return on Investment (CoP-ROI); and the Return on Investment Analytic Action Learning Collaborative (ROI Analytic ALC) funded through W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Both projects are highlighted on AMCHP's ROI webpage. The second ROI ALC kicked off in July with five state teams participating in monthly Learning Events, check-in calls with AMCHP, and expert consultations. The ROI ALC also hosted an in person peer learning meeting. AMCHP's work in this area was highlighted at APHA's Public Health Finance Roundtable this fall.
- AMCHP debuted exciting enhancements to Innovation Station, including a new landing page, the ability to search by the new Title V national performance measures, and a mechanism to request technical assistance via the web. All enhancements were tested by users from the Title V community. We are also pleased to announce a new practice category, Cutting Edge. Cutting edge practices are considered emerging innovations of existing or new methods and practices. Specifically, these practices may provide an innovative approach to an evolving public health issue; align with experiential evidence inside or outside of public health; show early signs of promise or success; and have an evaluation or quality improvement plan in development.
- With support from AMCHP's MCHB Partnership for State Title V Leadership Cooperative Agreement, AMCHP began a series of Implementation Roadmap webinars on related to the national performance measures (NPM). Each of the 10 webinars features highlights from Strengthen the Evidence Base's evidence compilations, AMCHP's scan of common strategies and/or approaches that states who chose the measure are taking based on review of FY14/16 Block Grant Applications, and presentations from states or national resource centers related to the NPM.
Policy and Government Affairs
Ah, the joys and frustrations of working in our Nation's Capital! Progress can sometimes only be measured in the teensiest of ways, and then there are other occasions when we can truly celebrate movement. Under the excellent direction of Brent Ewig, Director of Policy and Government Affairs, and Amy Haddad, Associate Director for Government Affairs, this small (but mighty) team's DID have notable mentions in the win column. Two major policy wins included, first, turning a proposed $25 million cut to Title V into a small increase, and second, helping to secure reauthorization of the home visiting, PREP and Family to Family Health Information Center programs. Amy Haddad on our staff deserves particular commendation for her work to organize the strategy to reverse the proposed Title V cut. I would like to reiterate how pleased we are to deliver these results on behalf of the families you serve and share a little perspective on what I've learned about AMCHP's advocacy program in the time I've been at AMCHP. Almost all associations in Washington, DC have a government relations or advocacy function. And because of the important restrictions on what funds can be used to support this, our government relations team is by necessity small but I think you will agree with me on how effective they are. This incidentally is why revenues from the annual conference and member dues are so critical to support these activities. I've seen firsthand how seriously we at AMCHP take our role to be your eyes, ears and voice in Washington. I've also learned how especially in these days of significant partisanship and divisiveness how challenging it is to be a truly non-partisan organization which is all the more reason to be proud of the policy wins we've been able to generate with bipartisan support. This could not happen without the close and careful guidance our members provide to me and our staff – particularly those on the board and our Legislative and Health Care Finance Committee. It's something that I know will continue with Eileen Forlenza, who you all know brings particular passion to this area - especially raising up the inestimable value family leaders bring to advocacy. Looking forward, we will have a new administration in exactly one year. I want to share that our board and policy committee have already begun serious dialogue at this meeting about how to best position AMCHP and the field of MCH to leverage new opportunities on the horizon. We've begun discussions on crafting a set of both practical and aspirational policy recommendations that we can share immediately with the next president's transition team and set the stage for even more MCH policy in 2017 and beyond. My wish for 2016? I'd like for us to have even more items in the 'win' column, expanded champions for MCH among our lawmakers despite where they sit across the aisle, and (dare I say it?) a collaborative and unified approach focused on addressing this country's most egregious MCH challenges.
Not a bad year at all, but we STILL have to march on and remain assiduous. Please join us as we set forth on a new and exciting journey in 2016 as we shape our vision, mission, new strategic goals and objectives into ACTION. Don't forget, we cannot accomplish these amazing things and further improve without your feedback, input and guidance. I welcome and embrace it.