- Catalina DeSouza, Evidence & Implementation Intern, Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs (AMCHP)
- Laura Powis, Program Manager, Evidence-Based Policy & Practice, Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs (AMCHP)
- Nikki Dyer, Family Engagement Coordinator, Washington State Department of Health
- Becky Burns, Statewide Coordinator, Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs, Wisconsin Department of Health Services
- Isabel Dickson, Economic Mobility Specialist, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
Key attributes of the Title V Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Block Grant program are the flexibility, responsiveness, and adaptability that it affords states and jurisdictions striving to improve health access and outcomes for all women, children, youth, and families. Recognizing that centering the voices of those with lived experience impacted by Title V programming is essential to creating equitable systems change, many Title V programs have developed and worked to support meaningful community partnerships through their work. In line with this month’s Pulse theme, “A Celebration of Title V Maternal and Child Health,” AMCHP’s Innovation Hub team is highlighting the work of three innovative practices in the MCH Innovation Database that are using Title V funds in creative ways to advance health equity and community partnerships.
This article celebrates the work happening in Colorado, Washington state, and Wisconsin, highlighting how these programs are using Title V funds to partner with and benefit the communities they serve.
Incorporating the Social and Structural Determinants of Health in Colorado’s Title V Program
Through an inclusive and data-informed needs assessment process, the Colorado MCH program incorporated social and structural determinants of health (SSDoH) into their priority selection for the 2021–2025 Title V grant period, resulting in four of seven new MCH priorities addressing SSDoH. Priorities included increasing prosocial connection, creating safe and connected built environments, increasing economic mobility, and reducing racial inequities. Colorado MCH also identified that a formal infrastructure for community inclusion and engagement would strengthen MCH priority implementation. As a result, the community advisory board was developed and launched in October 2019. Primarily funded by MCH, the community advisory board’s membership is represented by the communities that are most impacted by MCH priority work. Members represent a range of sexual and gender identities, both native and immigrant experiences, as well as different languages, races, ethnicities, and physical abilities. This advisory board has been engaged to inform MCH priorities, including social determinants of health (SDoH) topics. For example, when members worked on the economic mobility priority, they asked for input from the advisory board to inform its strategies and messaging. This input became foundational for a public information campaign as well as a recent funding opportunity for community-led solutions. Members of this advisory board are not only doing work to make a difference in the state; they are also seeing an impact in their personal lives. Watch these stories to hear members reflect on how the advisory board has had a positive impact on their lives.
Washington Statewide Leadership Initiative Coalition
The Washington Statewide Leadership Initiative (WSLI) is a coalition that serves as a hub for family organizations, nonprofits, and professionals who provide peer support, family navigation, leadership development, and advocacy training to families of children and youth with special health care needs (CYSHCN). The WSLI coalition understands that family engagement and leadership are an integral part of the Title V program and uses these connections with communities for family advocates at the personal, local, state, and national levels.
WSLI has adapted to meet the needs of its family leaders throughout the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns that occurred in Washington state. In 2021, WSLI offered an all-virtual conference in place of the previous in-person summit. The virtual format allowed a broader reach. The 2021 conference featured equity and inclusion strategies from an anti-racist approach and featured a panel of diverse caregivers of CYSHCN. This event was attended by 106 family members and professionals, whereas 45 people attended a collaboration working summit in 2019, which is the most well attended in-person summit to date.
Wisconsin’s Community Engagement Assessment Tool: Supporting Family, Youth and Community Engagement in all MCH/CYSHCN Programs
The Community Engagement Assessment Tool developed by Wisconsin Title V outlines an annual process for local programs that receive Title V funding, to assess their engagement with family, youth, and community members. The tool also provides a method to enhance Title V’s practice of engagement throughout the year.
Since its inception in 2019, the community engagement assessment tool continues to be utilized around the state of Wisconsin. Starting with seven pilot programs, the tool is now being used by more than 40 programs statewide. The pandemic slowed the dissemination of the tool, but Title V is on track to have even more Title V programs using the tool next year. Through their adolescent health programs, CYSHCN programs, and local public health departments addressing the Title V breastfeeding objective, Wisconsin Title V continues to learn where partners need additional support and how the definition of the community they serve can vary drastically. Although some agencies struggle to identify people from the community they serve to complete the assessment, other agencies have 65 respondents per year. One factor that remains consistent is that once a program embraces this process, by the second or third year, they are reaping the benefits. Check out Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services’ updated webpage for more information.