This is a new column to highlight emerging, cutting-edge, and best practices from AMCHP's Innovation Station related to the theme of this Pulse, alignment of resources and collaboration.
PowerMeA2Z is an innovative and interactive social marketing campaign targeting Arizona women ages 18 to 44, with the goals of educating women of child-bearing age about the importance of folic acid in reducing neural tube birth defects and increasing their consumption of folic acid.
Campaign tactics were created through extensive formative and evaluative research, including an interactive website, social media advertising, and extensive grassroots partnerships. The campaign, created by SUMA Social Marketing in collaboration with the Arizona Department of Health Services, found that flexibility and personalization are essential in developing strong partnerships. In addition, its efforts focus on sustainability whenever possible.
PowerMeA2Z worked closely with partners to develop training that best fits each partner and its approach. For example, in Yuma the campaign conducted in-person training on how to distribute campaign materials via promotoras – community members who receive specialized training to provide basic health education even though they are not professional health care workers; created a partnership with the Arizona Pharmacy Association to engage and educate pharmacy students on their campuses, and developed a training video to play for new classes of nursing students each semester for the Chamberlain College of Nursing. In addition, the creation of a strategic and unique outreach methodology and distribution plan with doctors has been effective in engaging them with the campaign.
The campaign also developed personalized promotional materials to make it simple for partners to help spread the word about PowerMeA2Z. In one instance, the campaign wrote an article that the partner could include in its monthly newsletter; in another case, the campaign created a banner image that the partner could place on its website that links to PowerMeA2Z.org.
Being able to meet each partner's unique needs is key to PowerMeA2Z's successful grassroots outreach. The campaign also listened to partners' feedback and made changes to improve processes, including developing an online order form that made it fast and easy for established partners to request more free vitamins and health materials from the campaign. While most partners now use the online form, some do not have internet access or prefer to order through the mail, so the campaign created paper order forms to serve those partners' needs. While this high-touch, highly personalized style of outreach is time-intensive and resource-intensive, the resulting partnerships allow the campaign message to spread in diverse communities across the state.
Community-Based Doula Program
The Community-Based Doula Program provides intensive support to families throughout pregnancy and during labor and birth, as well as in the early months of parenting – primarily in communities of color and low-income communities – and employs doulas who are from the communities being served.
The Community-Based Doula Program has been collaborative from the beginning. It was created with support from the Irving Harris Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and developed by multiple stakeholders: breastfeeding peer counselors trained by HealthConnect One and the families they served, the Harris Foundation, and the Ounce of Prevention Fund of Illinois, along with three of its Chicago-based affiliates (Marillac House, Christopher House, and Alivio Medical Center). Since the pilot, which began in Chicago in 1996, HealthConnect One (HC One) has collaborated in 28 states with 74 organizations working to adapt the program by leveraging the strengths and needs of their own communities. For each organization, HC One provides the program model and support for local community health workers in many aspects of their work, remaining dedicated to the principles of peer support; respecting local community traditions, cultures and standards; and incorporating stakeholder input.
Collaboration is woven into every aspect of the work. An essential step early in the development of any new Community-Based Doula Program, for example, is the convening of a stakeholders meeting – which includes partner organizations, community advocates, medical providers, and community residents – to discuss issues facing birthing families and the potential structure and objectives of the program. The program model is also subject to ongoing peer review from experts and practitioners from within and outside the organization, including HC One's national network of collaborating sites (through meetings and other convenings) and the broader early health and early learning practitioners (through frequent presentations). Through working one-on-one, facilitating large groups, and convening stakeholders from across the country, HC One has discovered that when communities lead, moms, babies, families, and communities thrive. The work is successful when organizers are poised to listen, learn, and incorporate into future practice the knowledge and experience shared. In other words: This work is successful only when the communities lead the collaboration.
Every Child Succeeds
Eighteen years ago, three leading organizations in the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area formed a nonprofit called Every Child Succeeds that aimed to ensure an optimal start for children. It has since served more than 25,000 families, and owes its success to the way the three organizations established it and operated it.
The roots of the effort date to the late 1990s, when the United Way of Greater Cincinnati (UWGC) board of trustees developed a community plan to improve health outcomes for children. Following an extensive process that involved conducting a needs assessment, convening multiple community meetings across a seven-county service area, and researching best practices nationally, the board approved a business plan. Key elements of the plan included the need to: engage families earlier, during the critical period of brain development, ages 0 to 3; implement evidence-based home visitation models and continually enhance services; and create an organizational framework based on collaboration of key community partners. The plan promised scale, outcomes, and, ultimately, a return on the community's investment.
Thus, UWGC, Cincinnati Children's Hospital (CCHMC) and Community Action Agency /Head Start (CAA) joined to form a nonprofit, Every Child Succeeds (ECS), with the three organizations as the members. Each has a unique role. United Way raises funds for the effort and CAA ensures slots in Head Start for graduating families. As one of the top three children's hospitals in the nation, CCHMC agreed to manage the nonprofit, providing the centralized backbone services: evaluation, research, training, curriculum development, quality improvement, marketing, billing, contracting, fundraising, and other operational activities.
ECS selected social service agencies embedded in the community to hire and supervise the qualified home visitors. There are now nine ECS partner organizations in various communities of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. The centralized management functions allow supervisors and home visitors to focus on providing high-quality services for families. A managing supervisor from each agency serves on the Lead Agency Council, two members of which serve on the ECS board of directors.
Collaboration has been key to ECS's success over the first 18 years of service with 25,000-plus families.