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 January 13, 2009

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Sailing into the New Year

By Mike R. Fraser, PhD  

I spent Christmas vacation thinking and reading about leadership – one of my favorite topics. There are so many theories about leadership and how to lead, what makes a good leader, whether leadership can be “taught” or is something one is born with, leading across diverse teams, leading across systems, leading virtually, leading versus managing, etc., that I could read for years and still not have my fill. One author who writes on leadership with whom I have been very impressed with is Captain Michael Abrashoff. Abrashoff is a retired Navy commander who is credited with having transformed one of the weakest, most poorly performing rust-buckets in the Navy into one of its best ships. In his three books (It’s Your Ship, It’s Our Ship, and Get Your Ship Together) Abrashoff takes the lessons he used to turn his ship around and applies them to organizations outside the Navy, including corporations, small businesses and other government agencies. 

A Navy captain may be an unlikely role model for an MCH leader. What we do every day is considerably different from sailors. But Abrashoff’s lessons do apply to our work. Abrashoff worked within a complex, often constraining government bureaucracy. He couldn’t necessarily choose his sailors – he had to work with what he got. The sailors that he did get didn’t necessarily have all the skills and abilities he needed them to have so he had to train them and mentor them and develop leaders on whom he could rely. He had to engage many different communities and partners to carry out his missions, and had to learn how to communicate effectively to diverse people both at home and abroad. Through it all Abrashoff learned the power of getting the system to work for him despite obstacles like bureaucracy, personnel issues and resource constraints. And he took a ship that no one found worthy and redeemed it. 

Intrigued? After reading his first book, It’s Your Ship, I had to read his other two. All three have practical, no-nonsense lessons and strategies for leaders in a variety of sectors, but I think his perspective as a Navy Captain is actually very analogous to many of you leading large maternal and child health programs. As MCH Directors and CYSHCN Directors you may be sandwiched between a higher command (Health Commissioners, Secretaries of Health) and front-line employees in your agencies just as Abrashoff reported to admiralty and also led the sailors on his ship. He had to creatively identify solutions to problems, despite budget constraints and other obstacles, very much like what I observe Title V program staff have to deal with in their day to day lives at work. Is a MCH program like a battleship? No, thank goodness our missions are very different. But you may find the strategies you need to use to get your program together akin to the strategies Abrashoff used on his ship. 

Abrashoff’s third book, It’s Our Ship, begins with a mea culpa: he says the title of his first book (It’s Your Ship) was wrong and he was sorry he titled it that way. Why? Because instead of leadership being about him and his ship he realized that leadership was really about developing ownership and a sense of we and our ship among the people that he was leading. What a great insight! How many leaders are truly able to transform their organizations from theirs to ours? What would this look like for you to try in your MCH program? At AMCHP I have spent over a year working with our staff to develop a sense of “we” firmly rooted in our mission and vision. It has been fun to watch our organization move forward as staff began to make the change from seeing AMCHP’s success as someone else’s job to being our job collectively. I love thinking about AMCHP as “our” ship – and urge you to do the same in your own work as quickly as possible. 

Is this the only lesson we have to learn to be effective leaders and turn our ships around? Absolutely not. But it is one I found very useful, and hope you do too. As we sail into this new year, I urge you to consider taking some time to read Abrashoff’s books and challenge you to try some of the strategies and tactics he describes in his work.

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FY 2009 Appropriations Remain Incomplete – Omnibus Expected
With Congress back in session for the New Year, one of the major questions will be what to do with the unfinished FY 2009 appropriations? Currently funded under a Continuing Resolution (CR) until March 6, 2009, the Labor HHS Appropriations Bill is just one of many unresolved federal funding bills still remaining from the prior Congressional session. With the start of the FY2010 appropriations cycle fast approaching, Congress has been working on putting together an Omnibus Appropriations bill which would take all of the unfinished ‘09 bills and wrap them into one package that Congress could pass with a single vote and offer to the President-Elect soon after his inauguration on January 20th. While expectations are high for funding new priorities, Congress is facing a rapidly increasing federal budget deficit, as well as a faltering economy. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) last week released estimates showing that the federal deficit could eventually reach nearly $1.2 trillion for the current fiscal year, making any substantial investments in public health programs much more unlikely.  

AMCHP has been working with Congress and the Obama transition team to advocate for the fully authorized amount of $850 million for the MCH Block Grant in both FY 2009 and FY2010. To kick off our 2009 advocacy push, AMCHP will offer two advocacy training conference calls: the first for family advocates on January 22 and a second for all members on January 29. The calls will focus on preparing for Capitol Hill visits during the AMCHP Annual Meeting in February as well as other ways for members to help support MCH Block Grant funding. Stay tuned for a message on signing up for these calls, and please let us know if you are planning on visiting your members of Congress, or if you need help setting up a meeting by contacting Brent Ewig at or Joshua Brown

House Announces Vote on SCHIP Reauthorization 
Democratic leaders last week announced plans to vote on a stand-alone State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) reauthorization bill, likely on either Tuesday or Wednesday of this week. The legislation is expected to be based on the first SCHIP bill vetoed by President Bush last year and include an increase in the federal cigarette tax to fund the SCHIP expansion, although exact costs of the bill remains undetermined. The 2007 reauthorization bill would have increased SCHIP enrollment from six million to 10 million and raised the tax by 61 cents per pack. The 2007 bill would have cost an estimated $35 billion over five years. House Democratic leaders hope to expand SCHIP enrollment to 11 million under the new legislation, according to a spokesperson for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Senate leaders said they expect to vote on reauthorization soon as well, although timing on their action is less certain. 

AMCHP has included SCHIP reauthorization among the priorities in our 100 Day MCH Agenda for the New Administration and Congress and has signed on to coalition letters urging prompt reauthorization. Additionally, First Focus, the Children's Health Fund, and the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) jointly released this side-by-side comparison of last year’s SCHIP bills as a resource for the upcoming reauthorization debate, along with recommendations to improve the health and well-being of our nation's children. A new National Health Policy Forum issue brief, Reauthorizing SCHIP: A Summary of Selected Issues, also provides background and a brief overview of some of the policy and programmatic issues currently under discussion.

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Vote for your AMCHP Board of Directors
The 2009 election for AMCHP’s open Board positions is now open. All AMCHP delegates whose programs have paid dues for the 2008-2009 membership year are eligible to vote. For information on the candidates, please visit, Delegates and family delegates that do not vote electronically may vote in-person at the 2009 Annual Conference. If you have any questions, please contact Rachel Arculin or call (202) 266-3051. 

AMCHP February Board Meeting
The next AMCHP Board Meeting will be held during our Annual Conference on Saturday, February 21 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Additional information will be provided in the coming weeks. Board Members who will be attending should RSVP to Nora Lam or call (202) 775-0436. 

AMCHP Board Approves Two By-Laws Changes
AMCHP Board of Directors approved two By-Laws changes at its November 2008 meeting. The first provision changed the By-Laws so that any Director could serve as Chair of the Governance Committee. Previously, the Governance Committee could only be chaired by an At-Large Director which limited the number of potential chairpeople and did not encourage leadership development among the Board (Article XII, Section 3). The second change recognized a sunset provision meant to stagger Family Representative terms. This provision takes effect after the February 2009 Annual Conference and allows for two Family Representatives to stagger their terms so that both do not rotate off the Board at the same time (Article V, Section 3.a). Both changes will be presented at the AMCHP Business Meeting during our 2009 Annual Conference. For a current copy of the By-Laws, visit here.

AMCHP Business Meeting 
All members, partners and staff are invited to attend a business meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 24 from 10:15 to 11:45 a.m. during our Annual Conference.  

Teen Pregnancy Prevention Webcast
AMCHP will host a webcast on “Involving Males in Teen Pregnancy Prevention” on January 22, 2009, from 1:30 to 3 p.m. (EDT). This webcast will focus on the important role that supportive male partners can play in reducing the risk of unintended pregnancy and the spread of STIs and in improving the use of contraception through effective male involvement programs such as Wise Guys. For more information and to register, visit here.

Family Voices’ Gala 
The Family Voices Gala will be held on Monday, February 23, 2009, in conjunction with AMCHP’s Annual Conference at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, DC. AMCHP members get a discounted price! $175 for AMCHP members. For more information, visit Family Voices 2009 Gala.

Submit Your Best Practice Today!
AMCHP is seeking submissions of best practices in maternal and child health from around the country. Whether it’s an effective campaign to promote breastfeeding, an outstanding nurse-family partnership, or a proven early intervention program for young children, get the word out about your best practice. AMCHP defines “best practices” as a continuum of practices, programs and policies ranging from promising to evidence-based to science-based. A best practice could focus on the health of women, adolescents, young children, families, or children with special health care needs. Best practice focus areas include preconception care, mental health, data and assessment, financing, program and system integration, workforce development, injury prevention, emergency preparedness, family involvement, or other public health issues. Contribute to AMCHP’s Innovation Station – a growing database of what is working in MCH. 

1) Click here to download a PDF of the submission form.  

2) When you are ready to submit, click here to start the survey. 

For more information on submitting best practices, please contact Darlisha Williams or call (202) 775-0436.  

Call for Applications for the YALT Program Are you between the ages of 18 and 24 and have a desire to be a "change agent" for children? If so, the upcoming 2009 Young Advocate Leadership Training (YALT) program might be the perfect opportunity for you to develop your knowledge and skills in child advocacy. Children’s Defense Fund's (CDF) vision is to develop the next generation of leaders who are committed to social justice and improving the lives of all children in America. To help achieve this goal, one of the many programs that CDF offers is the YALT program. During the YALT program, participants are exposed to dynamic workshops and plenary sessions, facilitated action plan development, and targeted training sessions on developing organizing and advocacy skills. Each year, this program attracts hundreds of young adults from across the country for a weekend of knowledge and skills-building at CDF's Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee. The 2009 YALT program will be held March 20-22. The deadline is February 4. To apply, visit here.   

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AMCHP, the Children’s Safety Network, and the State and Territorial Injury Prevention Directors Association are interested in hearing from states about work in preventing child maltreatment. We want to showcase, in an April 2009 webcast, programs and activities that focus on one or more of the following: 

• Integration of child health and safety, social and human development, and public health systems; 

• Influences of parents, family, community, and society in shaping human development; 

• Formative and operational systems change in relation to child maltreatment;  

• Parenting and family innovations and opportunities for prevention of child maltreatment; 

• Community and society innovations and opportunities for preventing child maltreatment  

Please send description of your program and activities to Malia Richmond-Crum, Children’s Safety Network, no later than January 28. If you have any questions, please contact Lauren Raskin Ramos. 



AMCHP President-elect Phyllis Sloyer has written an article in the December 2008 issue of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Medical Home Quarterly about Florida’s work around Title V and promoting Medical Homes for all children. To view the article, visit here.

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General Maternal & Child Health

State Budget Cuts Threatening Public’s Health
A survey conducted by the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, found that states are already slashing public health programs and personnel. To view the fact sheet, visit here 

Spanish-Language Health Resources
The 2008 “Spanish-language health resources” edition of the MCH Library Knowledge Path offers a list of resources that focus on specific aspects of maternal and child health, including adolescent violence prevention, child maltreatment, consumer safety, and mental health. To view the resources, visit here

Women's Health

New Women’s Health and Wellness Emotional Tools 
HRSA Office of Women's Health has announced that its Bright Futures for Women's Health and Wellness Emotional Wellness Tools are now available to download for free online. To view the resources, visit here.

Children's Health 

CDF Releases New Children’s Report
The report, State of America's Children 2008, is a compilation of the most recent and reliable national and state-by-state data on poverty, health, child welfare, youth at risk, early childhood development, education, nutrition and housing. The report provides a statistical compendium of key child data showing epidemic numbers of children at risk: the number of poor children has increased nearly 500,000 to 13.3 million, with 5.8 million of them living in extreme poverty, and nearly 9 million children lack health coverage―with both numbers likely to increase during the recession. To download the report, visit here 

New Children’s Product Safety Laws
In February 2009, new requirements of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) will take effect, expecting manufacturers, importers and retailers to comply with new Congressionally-mandated laws. Beginning February 10, 2009, children’s products cannot be sold if they contain more than 600 parts per million (ppm) total lead. The new law requires that domestic manufacturers and importers certify that children’s products made after February 10 meet all the new safety standards and the lead ban. For more information, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).  

Beckett Family Lecture Now Available Online
The Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) has posted the link to a lecture given by Julie Beckett, the current Director of National Policy for Family voices, and her daughter Katie. Julie and Katie Beckett are committed to bringing families and communities together to ensure children with special healthcare needs and disabilities obtain services. The lecture was presented as a part of the Focus on Disabilities awareness event and was sponsored by The National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and AUCD. 

New Easter Seals Autism Study
In cooperation with the Autism Society of America, the Easters Seals released a Living with Autism Study. Easter Seals surveyed over 2,500 parents of children who have autism and parents of typically developing children about daily life, relationships, independence, education, housing, employment, finances and healthcare. The study results paint a startling picture of the life-long fears, anxieties and critical supports needed to raise a child with autism. To view the study, visit here

Adolescent Health 

Virginity Pledges Do Not Work, New Study Confirms
Teens who take "virginity pledges" are just as likely to have sex as those who do not, and they are less likely to use condoms or other forms of contraception when they become sexually active, according to a new study published in Pediatrics. The study, Patient Teenagers? A Comparison of the Sexual Behavior of Virginity Pledgers and Matched Nonpledgers, virginity pledge programs do not reduce the number of young people becoming sexually active. To view the full study, visit here

National Campaign Report: Sex and Technology 
The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and commissioned a survey of teens and young adults to better understand the sexual attitudes and behaviors in cyberspace. Key findings include 20 percent of teens and 33 percent of young adults say they have sent or posted nude or semi-nude pictures or video of themselves. To view the full report, visit here

Young Women More Likely Than Young Men to Report Having Felt Pressure or Regret about First Sexual Experience According to The Quality of Young People's Heterosexual Relationships: A Longitudinal Analysis of Characteristics Shaping Subjective Experience, a substantial proportion of teens surveyed (30%) regretted their first intercourse. The proportion who had felt pressured at first sex was roughly twice as high among females as among males (19% vs. 10%), as were the proportions who regretted their first time (38% vs. 20%) and who did not enjoy their most recent sexual experience (12% vs. 5%). To learn more, visit here.

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United Health Heroes Service Learning Grants
Deadline: January 15
Eligibility: Schools and youth-focused community centers located in the following 15 states: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Tennessee. Fund uses: To combat childhood obesity through service-learning projects that involve child volunteers. For more information, visit here

Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities Call for Proposals Released
Deadline: February 3
“Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities” is a new national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), which aims to implement healthy eating and active living initiatives for children, families and communities across the United States. The program places special emphasis on reaching children who are at highest risk for obesity on the basis of race/ethnicity, income and/or geographic location. RWJF will award approximately 60 grants to help local community partnerships nationwide increase opportunities for physical activity and improve access to affordable healthy foods for children and families. Special consideration will be given to communities in 15 states with the greatest incidence of or risk for childhood obesity (Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia). To learn more, visit here.   

Grants to States to Support Oral Health Workforce Activities
Deadline: April 1
Health Resources & Services Administration grants are available to states to improve the accessibility of the oral health workforce for underserved geographic areas and populations. Section 340F defines a designated shortage area as "an area, population group, or facility that is designated by the Secretary as a dental health professional shortage area under section 332 or designated by the applicable State as having a dental health manpower shortage." To learn more, visit here.

Funding Available for Male Involvement in Child Maltreatment Prevention Programs
Deadline: Open
The CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control solicits research applications that will help advance knowledge of effective strategies for engaging the participation of fathers and male caregivers in evidence-based parenting programs that may prevent child maltreatment. Specific proposals are being sought to take an evidence-based parenting program (that is, a program that has been evaluated using a randomized- or quasi-experimental design with evidence of positive effects on parenting and/or child behavior outcomes) and develop systematic adaptations to the delivery structure, content, and/or materials to target father or male caregiver involvement and engagement in the program. Furthermore, the applications should seek to conduct pilot evaluations of the effects of the adapted programs on participant involvement and engagement in the program; parenting behaviors and male caregiver-child relationships; and child behavior outcomes. To learn more, visit here

Changes in Health Care Financing and Organization Funding Alert
Deadline: Open
HCFO supports policy analysis, research, evaluation and demonstration projects that provide policy leaders timely information on health care policy and financing issues. This call for proposals is intended to support projects that 1.) examine significant issues and interventions related to health care financing and organization and their effects on health care costs, quality and access; and 2.) explore or test major new ways to finance and organize health care that have the potential to improve access to more affordable and higher quality health services. To learn more, visit here.  

Health and Wellness
Deadline: Ongoing
PepsiCo Foundation’s mission in Health and Wellness is to advance and encourage healthy lifestyles and positive behavior change. Initiatives of particular interest are those which address one or more of the following focus areas: community activation, minority communities, school drop-out prevention, and health professionals. For more information, visit here.

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Call for Nominations: ELPH-Emerging Leaders in Public Health
The Emerging Leaders in Public Health (ELPH) program prepares the next generation of committed public health leaders to manage and lead in times of uncertainty.  This program prepares these leaders to expand their influence in their organizations and within their communities. The ELPH program is custom designed for public health (and related) professionals who want to improve their leadership skills for improved planning and decision-making and want to increase their professional network ELPH has embraced the idea that issues of racial and ethnic health disparities in the US can not be addressed without bringing key minority participants and others to the table for the decision-making process. The application deadline is March 31, 2009. To learn more, visit here.


22nd Annual Rural Health Care Leadership Conference
January 18-21
Phoenix, AZ 

Families USAs’ Health Action 2009 Conference
January 29-31
Washington, DC  

AMCHP’s 2009 Annual ConferenceLaunching MCH: Opportunities for a New Era
February 21-25
Washington, DC 

Family Voices’ Gala – One Heart, Many Voices: The Time is Now!
February 23
Washington, DC

Eighth Annual Forum for Improving Children’s Healthcare: Thrive Together
March 9-12
Grapevine, TX

The Third International Conference on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
March 11-14
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

National WIC Association’s Annual Conference
May 24–27
Nashville, TN  

University of Illinois at Chicago’s MCH Leadership Conference
Chicago, IL
July 20-23

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