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 March 9, 2009

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Management Minute

Using Words That Work

By Mike R. Fraser, PhD

At the Tuesday closing session of AMCHP’s Annual Conference, Bruce Lesley of First Focus shared a list of “words that work.” Bruce’s point was that the words we use to talk about maternal and child health programs such as “infrastructure,” “capacity building,” “systems” and “integrated coordination of care,” are words that pollsters and pundits have found don’t work. The words are confusing, they are jargon, they are insider words that policymakers and the public do not understand. Words that do work are aspirational, they are uplifting, and they make immediate sense to people. It struck me that our MacQueen lecturer, Magda Peck, also talked about being selective in our use of words and the power that words have to inspire and change. If you think of “V” in Title V as a letter and not as a Roman numeral, you can think that “V” stands for “victory,” “visionary,” and “value-added.” I like that.

The day after the conference a group of us went to thank Senator Christopher J. Dodd (D-Connecticut) for his national leadership on maternal and child health issues and to share our congratulations on his selection as one of our inaugural legislative champion awardees. During our visit we had the opportunity to ask for his continued support of the Title V MCH Block Grant and we used the “i-word” – infrastructure – in the conversation. Immediately the conversation turned to community health centers and the need for more funding for health centers to build community infrastructure for healthcare access. It was clear that we used a word that didn’t work: infrastructure did not convey what we really meant which was all those things at the base of the MCH pyramid that support MCH programs in the states. We got all gummed up in our conversation and had to refocus the conversation on Title V, and that was with someone who knows our programs well and is a champion for the Title V Block Grant and its continued success.

We need to spend more time thinking about the words we use. And make sure we are using words that work – to advocate for the maternal and child health programs about which we care so deeply. Sure, we can have our “inside voice” – the quiet, calm use of words that might work when we are talking amongst ourselves. But we also need our “outside voice” – the loud shout of words that work when talking about maternal and child health with others that might not know us so well. In the future, AMCHP will be working on more specific messaging using the guidance that Bruce, Magda, and many others provided at the Annual Conference. And once we have these words that work, we’ll need all the help we can get to amplify our messages both here in Washington and at home in your states.

PS: If you want to learn more, read a great book by Dr. Frank Luntz “Words that Work: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear,” whose work was cited by Bruce Lesley at the conference.

Legislative Corner

AMCHP Launches Legislative Champions for MCH Award
Last year, AMCHP’s Board of Directors approved a proposal from the Legislative Committee to begin a Legislative Champions for MCH Award Program. The goal of this award is to recognize and celebrate the efforts of members of Congress and their staff to improve the lives and health of mothers, children, and families, including those with special health care needs. At the recent AMCHP Annual Conference we were pleased to announce the first four individuals to be the inaugural recipients of this award: Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard from California’s 34th District, along with Tamar Magarik Haro, a professional staff member for the Subcommittee on Children and Families of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee and Debbie Jessup, Legislative Assistant to Representative Roybal-Allard.

In 2008, Sen. Chris Dodd led the effort to secure bi-partisan passage of an amendment to the Senate’s Budget Resolution recommending full funding for the MCH Block Grant. He also was one of the lead sponsors of the Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act, which became law on April 24, 2008. This bill establishes grant programs to provide for education and outreach on newborn screening and coordinated follow up care once newborn screening has been conducted. Earlier in his career, Sen. Dodd formed the first children’s caucus in the Senate and spent eight years fighting to enact the Family and Medical Leave Act, which has helped ensure that 50 million Americans don’t have to choose between their job and their family. Representative Roybal-Allard was one of the primary sponsors of the Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act in the House, and has a distinguished record of supporting both legislation and funding for MCH programs. Sen. Ted Kennedy was also awarded the Vince Hutchins MCH Leadership Award at the Annual Conference.

Ms. Magarik Haro accepted her award at the AMCHP Annual Conference. Due to a busy legislative calendar, neither Sen. Dodd nor Rep. Roybal-Allard were able to come to the conference, but a delegation of AMCHP leaders and staff were able to meet with Sen. Dodd and present his award on Capitol Hill (see photo). A similar award presentation is being scheduled with Rep. Roybal-Allard and Debbie Jessup.

AMCHP leaders and staff present Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) with the inaugural Legislative
Champions for MCH Award. From left – Brent Ewig, Director of Policy; Dr. Phyllis Sloyer,
AMCHP President; Sen. Dodd, Dr. Mike Fraser, AMCHP CEO; Nan Streeter, AMCHP Past-
President; and Joshua Brown, Senior Manager for Government Affairs.


FY 2009 Appropriations Finally Finishing Up
The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed an Omnibus Appropriations Bill, aimed at completing the FY 2009 appropriations. As previously reported, the bill includes a slight increase in the allocation to state grants in the Title V Maternal and Child Health Services (MCH) Block Grant of $2.6 million dollars. While AMCHP had been advocating for full funding of the MCH Block Grant, it was encouraging to see a proposed increase for the first time in several years.

At press time, the Senate is currently debating the bill with final passage expected soon. AMCHP continues to support increased funding for state MCH programs and will send an alert when the bill is completed. To receive AMCHP’s Legislative Alerts, please contact Josh Brown. 

White House Hosts Forum on Health Reform, Launches
On March 5, President Obama hosted a forum on health reform at the White House designed to heighten the national dialogue on the need for reform and to begin forging consensus on broad principles. The forum included several key members of Congress and stakeholder groups.  Although some public health advocates were in attendance, the forum did not include any representatives of state public health agencies, Medicaid, or governors. AMCHP has communicated to HHS leadership the need to include state public health and MCH leaders in dialogue around health reform from the beginning to assure a strong focus on prevention and build partnerships needed for implementation.  Subsequent health reform summits are being scheduled in Vermont, North Carolina, Iowa, and Michigan. We will be working with AMCHP members in those states to make sure that the essential work of state MCH programs is highlighted. The White House also announced the creation of a new web site which includes more information on the forum, as well as a report on the community health discussions that the administration previously encouraged. 

HHS Proposes to Rescind Bush Provider Refusal Rule
Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services proposed to rescind the December 19, 2008 final rule entitled “Ensuring That Department of Health and Human Services Funds Do Not Support Coercive or Discriminatory Policies or Practices in Violation of Federal Law.” More information is available here.  The Department “believes it is important to have an opportunity to review this regulation to ensure its consistency with current Administration policy and to reevaluate the necessity for regulations.” HHS is seeking comments on the proposed rescission, which AMCHP called for in a September 25, 2008 letter opposing the original regulation. You may submit electronic comments on this regulation to or via email to To submit electronic comments to, go to the Web site and click on the link “Comment or Submission” and enter the keywords “Rescission Proposal.”  

White House Releases FFY 2010 Budget Outline
President Obama released a broad budget outline for Federal Fiscal Year 2010 that includes some health program initiatives. A more detailed budget, including proposed funding for the MCH Block Grant, is expected to be presented by the White House in late April.


In the document, the new Administration did highlight a few health related initiatives that may be of interest to state MCH programs:


·        The Budget establishes a reserve fund of more than $630 billion over 10 years “to finance fundamental reform of our health care system that will bring down costs and expand coverage. The reserve is funded half by new revenue and half by savings proposals that promote efficiency and accountability, align incentives toward quality, and encourage shared responsibility.”


·        A down payment on the President’s “Zero to Five” initiative which supports investments in Head Start and the Child Care Block Grant, also funds a Nurse Home Visitation program. According to the White House, this “will provide funds to states to provide home visits by trained nurses to first-time low-income mothers and mothers-to be…This Budget builds the foundation for a program that could ultimately serve all eligible mothers who seek services.”


·        The Budget “supports state, community-based, and faith-based efforts to reduce teen pregnancy using evidence-based models. The program will fund models that stress the importance of abstinence while providing medically-accurate and age-appropriate information to youth who have already become sexually active.”


·        Investment of $330 million to address the shortage of health care providers in certain areas.


·        $211 million in HHS for research into the causes of and treatments for autism spectrum disorder screenings, public awareness, and support services.


·        $73 million to improve both access to and quality of health care in rural areas. This funding will strengthen regional and local partnerships among rural health care providers, expand community- based prevention interventions, and promote the modernization of the health care infrastructure in rural areas.


·        Additionally, while we have not seen the details yet in writing, the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association (NFPRHA) is reporting that a Medicaid family planning expansion is part of the President's health care reform plan.



AMCHP began work advocating for MCH program funding in the FY 2010 budget with several Hill visits during the Annual Conference. We continue to ask Congress to support full funding for the MCH Block Grant at the authorized amount of $850 million.


HHS Stimulus Funds Update
While we continue to await details on the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) plans for allocating stimulus funds, they have launched a website to provide updated information on the status of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds related to HHS programs. You may find this information here. The website is expected to have several ways to search for information. You will be able to find information about the various HHS Recovery Act programs, information about grants and contracting opportunities as well as weekly reports on fund allocation.


Get Involved 

Webcast on Setting State Health Priorities in Tough Budget Times
MCHB will host a webcast on “Setting State Health Priorities in Tough Budget Times: Partnering to Promote the Health of Mothers, Children and Families” on March 12 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. (EST). This webcast highlights a collaborative effort among several MCHB-funded national professional membership organizations to foster collaboration among state policymakers, helping them identify specific steps they can take together in their own state to improve the health status of women and children within the context of broader health issues. To register, visit here.

Call for Abstracts: National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing and Media
The CDC’s National Center for Health Marketing and the Office of Enterprise Communication is calling for abstracts for this conference to be held in Atlanta, GA on August 11-13. The deadline to submit an abstract is March 16. To learn more, visit here 

New MCH Epidemiology Training Course
The MCHB and CDC are offering a Training Course in MCH Epidemiology as part of their ongoing effort to enhance the analytic capacity of state and local health agencies. This national program is aimed primarily at professionals in state and local health departments who have significant responsibility for collecting, processing, analyzing, and reporting maternal and child health data. Faculty working with state MCH departments also are eligible for the course. The deadline to complete the application is April 3. To download the application, visit here. For more information contact Dr. Julia Hidalgo or call (443) 203-0305.  

Webinar on Youth in an Online World 
The Youth Intervention Programs Institute and the National Institute on Media and the Family will present a webinar on the opportunities, dangers and impacts for "Youth in an Online World” on April 21 from 10:30 a.m. to Noon (EST). To register, visit here 

Webcast on Cyberbullying
Bullying prevention experts will discuss Cyberbullying: Tools and Tips for Prevention and Intervention during a Stop Bullying Now! Campaign webcast on April 22 from 3 to 4.30 p.m. (EST). To register for the webcast, visit here. For more information about the webcast, contact Nicolle Grayson 

Call for MCH Case Studies
Maternal and Child Health projects of all kinds are needed (community-based/indigenous, public health, NGO, foundation-funded initiatives) to be used in the "International Case Studies in Maternal and Child Health," a textbook for health professionals. The deadline for submissions is September 30. Priority will be given to case studies written by, or in collaboration with, local voices. All questions and submissions should be addressed to the editor Ruth C. White, PhD, MPH, MSW.

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 emerging to promising to evidence-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.



Are services for autism covered under your Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs Program? Please email your responses to Grace Williams.


Publications & Resources

General Maternal & Child Health

New HHS Report on Health Reform
The report, “Americans Speak on Health Reform: Report on Health Care Community Discussions,” summarizes comments from the thousands of Americans who hosted and participated in Health Care Community Discussions across the country and highlights the need for immediate action to reform health care. To download the report, visit the new website dedicated to health reform.

Resources on Poison Prevention
The Health Resources and Services Administration has posted resources for National Poison Prevention Week, March 15-21, 2009. The resources include ideas for events and activities, fact sheets, information about how to partner with your local poison center, and planning tips to promote your events with media and community outreach. To view the resources, visit here.

Children’s Health

New Report on Maximizing Kids’ Enrollment in Medicaid and SCHIP
The report, “Maximizing Kids’ Enrollment in Medicaid and SCHIP: What Works in Reaching, Enrolling and Retaining Eligible Children,” revisits the ideas summarized in the “Seven Steps” brief by the National Academy of State Health Policy, and suggests strategies states can use to increase enrollment in Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) based on tested ideas for reaching, enrolling and retaining children who are eligible for public health insurance. To download the report, visit here.

Report on Trends in Child Health
The report, "Trends in Child Health, 1997-2006: Assessing Black-White Disparities," published by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, highlights differences in health outcomes among black children and white children and then examines how child health indicators vary by sociodemographic characteristics. To download the report, visit here

Study on Spending to Address Child Abuse and Neglect
The study, "Federal, State, and Local Spending to Address Child Abuse and Neglect in SFY 2006," published by Child Trends, summarizes key findings from a survey of all 50 states and the District of Columbia regarding their child welfare expenditures in state fiscal year 2006. To download the study, visit here.

Issue Brief on Practices to Prevent Low Birth Weight
The “Promising Practices for Preventing Low Birth Weight” brief produced by RAND's Promising Practices Network on Children, Families, and Communities (PPN), discusses what works to prevent low birth weight. The brief is one of several materials featured on RAND's Low Birth Weight/Prematurity Resources and Tools Web page. The materials meet PPN standards of scientific rigor, objectivity, and user friendliness and include links to databases, fact sheets, screening tools, and seminal reports. To download the issue brief and to see the other resources, visit here.



State MCH Early Childhood Comprehensive System Implementation Grants
Deadline: March 11
The purpose of the State Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems program is to ensure school readiness by creating a seamless system of early childhood services for all children. Evolving out of the State focused efforts has been a Work Group composed of representatives of federal programs that provide funding for services for children and their families at the state and local levels. Through this work group federal agencies are helping to improve access to services on the state and local levels by supporting state-level multi-agency teams in the development of early childhood comprehensive systems and coordinating their funding and technical assistance activities. To learn more, visit here 

Avon Foundation- Not Seen, Not Heard: Helping Children of Domestic Violence Grant
Deadline: April 1
The Avon Foundation, as part of its Speak Out initiative, launched the “Not Seen, Not Heard: Helping Children of Domestic Violence” program to assist children affected by domestic violence. Currently, the Avon Foundation is seeking applications from organizations that help children that have been exposed to domestic violence or who are victims of domestic violence. 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.

Healthy Start Leadership Training Institute
Deadline: April 1
The Health Resources & Services Administration has released a grant announcement, the purpose of which is to enhance Healthy Start Project Directors' knowledge of their Healthy Start program's capacity to address key maternal and child health care issues related to infant mortality and improving perinatal outcomes. Activities supported by this grant must include Healthy Start Project Directors and their staff responsible for designing and implementing health and social services for the vulnerable women and children served by Federal Healthy Start projects across the nation. To learn more, visit here.

Interventions for Youth and Young Adults with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
Deadline: April 9
The purpose of this funding opportunity announcement issued by the CDC is to support innovative research to identify and evaluate components of a systematic intervention for youth and young adults (aged 16 to 25 years old) with a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders and their families. This program is a directive within the Children’s Health Act of 2000 to develop and scientifically evaluate interventions for children and adolescents affected by Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) or other conditions resulting from prenatal alcohol exposure. To learn more, visit here.

Special Project Grants to WIC State
Deadline: April 13
The USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) expects to have approximately $500,000 in fiscal year (FY) 2009 funds available for Special Project Grants to WIC state agencies. Grant funds will be available only to the 90 WIC state agencies responsible for administering WIC in the states, territories, and Indian Tribal Organizations (ITOs). FY 2009 WIC Special Project Full Grants are open for consideration from all WIC- related program areas and may focus on either the general WIC population or specific segments of the WIC population. Grants should be used to help states develop, implement and evaluate new or innovative methods of service delivery to meet the changing needs of WIC participants. 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 



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

The First International Conference on Culture,Ethnicity, and Brain Injury Rehabilitation
March 12-13
Washington, DC

National Children's Advocacy Center’s National Symposium on Child Abuse
March 23–26
Huntsville, AL

Empowering the Majority: Increasing Access to Family Planning National Conference
April 26-29
Bethesda, MD

Coalition for Juvenile Justice Annual National Conference and
25th Anniversary Celebration: Unlocking the Future of Juvenile Justice

May 2-4
Arlington, VA

National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy
May 6, 2009

American College of Nurse-Midwives 54th Annual Meeting & Exposition
May 21-27
Seattle, WA

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

36th Annual International Conference on Global Health: New Technologies + Proven Strategies = Health Communities
May 26-30
Washington, D.C.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Institute's 7th Annual Summer Institute in Reproductive Health & Development
June 1-12
Baltimore, MD

 Second Annual MCH Leadership Retreat: Leadership, Legacy, and Community
Chicago, IL
July 20-22

Health Forum and the American Hospital Association's 17th Annual Leadership Summit
July 23-25
San Francisco, CA

World Breastfeeding Week 2009 - Breastfeeding: A Vital Emergency Response
Are you ready?

August 1-7

National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing and Media
August 11-13
Atlanta, GA