In Arkansas, individuals from all the major programs and support services in the agency were invited to participate in the workgroup and its associated activities. The accreditation process gives the Title V program a presence in an activity of great focus for the leadership of the agency. It is an opportunity to showcase and explain the Title V program, which can take a backseat to other departments, such as infectious disease, trauma/injury prevention or emergency preparedness, and show off the best practices in your MCH program and its contributions. This greater visibility can lead to more consideration or inclusion in agency planning, which can result in changes in the allocation of resources.
Further, the accreditation process will identify areas in which the agency is weak and needs improving (such as continuous quality improvement, data collection and analysis
or staff training) and this can be a direct benefit to your program if you manage this opportunity correctly. By being part of the accreditation process, you can influence what areas are addressed and the selected priorities.
The Nebraska Experience
Administrator, Lifespan Health Services Unit, Nebraska Division of Public Health
In Nebraska, both the Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health program manager and the MCH epidemiology surveillance coordinator were involved in accreditation teams. In addition, the coordinator served as staff support for the State Health Improvement Plan assessment (providing data, for example) and sat on the Performance Improvement Advisory Council. Finally, the overall process relied heavily on the MCH Assessment for documentation purposes. Involvement on the part of MCH staff developed into opportunities not only to make contributions to the accreditation process but also to educate colleagues in the Division of Public Health about our work to improve health and life course outcomes for the MCH population, including children and youth with special health care needs.
The opportunities provided by going through the accreditation process include reaching across sectors and identifying common interests, particularly where social determinants of health are concerned; informing public health partners who are involved in more regulatory and compliance roles (water and air quality, for example) about how our
work in population health aligns with the essential services and accreditation framework; and shared learning. There were many “ah-ha” moments from others about MCH approaches to evidence-based and data driven practice or efforts to address disparities. In addition, accreditation is a great opportunity to demonstrate to others in the agency the quality and quantity of the MCH work and to establish new partnerships.
Accreditation gives us the ability to further integrate MCH values into the public health culture, and the opportunity to keep improving on achieving standards.