HRSA/MCHB 2005 FEDERAL/STATE PARTNERSHIP MEETING
PUBLIC HEALTH ACROSS THE LIFESPAN
Title V and Adolescent Health
NAN STREETER: Good afternoon. How is everybody? You aren't? How are you? Are you awake after that big lunch? Okay. Well, it's nice to see all of you here. I think there's more of you here than we had anticipated. So this is good. This is what we're all about is trying to promote adolescent health and Title V agencies.
I'm going to sort of lay the groundwork for Title V and adolescent health and why it's important to Title V agencies, and I'll probably interject some comments about the partnership between AMCHP and the National Network of State Adolescent Coordinators, because it's been through that partnership that we have been able to achieve the development of the conceptual framework as well as the capacity assessment tool that Kristin will be talking about a little bit later.
So the partnership developed in 1999 and I got converted, and so this whole, what I'm going to be talking about, is sort of my conversion and why adolescent health is important to Title V programs. You know, I think everybody knows that adolescence is a trying period. It's trying for adolescents. It's trying for parents of adolescents and can be very challenging for the healthcare system. And so we need to keep in mind that adolescence is part of childhood. And it's an important period of transition for youth to adulthood. It's a period of time when adolescents are developing health behaviors and other behaviors that impact adult health that could lead to chronic diseases and we certainly want to do what we can to prevent the development of chronic diseases. If we can encourage healthy behaviors during the teen years then those will translate then to adulthood.
And, again, as I mentioned adolescents brings unique challenges. And again it's not just for youth but it's also for families.
I want to talk a little bit about how Utah, this is the conversion, how Utah is addressing adolescent health. In the past what we had in our staffing was that we had one staff person who served as both the school health nurse consultant and the adolescent health consultant. And you can guess which part of her job never got attention. And it was the adolescent health part. So we decided that we were going to make a commitment to adolescent health and we actually created a position with a sole focus on adolescent health so that we could put forth some time, efforts and resources to identify what some of the issues are for teens in Utah, such as mental health and so on that we then can focus our efforts.
We were one of the pilot states for AMCHP's pilot testing. The capacity assessment tool. And again Kristin will tell you a little bit more about that later. And the assessment tool was really good to help us kind of, you know, look over where are we strong, where do we need to improve. And so we knew that we had a strong commitment to adolescent health in this state. We have strong data capacity. We have strong surveillance capacity. In fact, it might be of interest to you that our YRBS surveillance system is not funded by CDC. It is not run through the State Office of Education. And this became a legislative issue where a legislator perceived that CDC was dictating that programs funded through the CDC money had to promote the use of condoms to prevent HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases. So our state Legislature several years ago prohibited the State Office of Education from applying for the funds that are directed to prevention of HIV AIDS, STDs and therefore YRBs. So the Utah Department of Health actually picked up that surveillance system and operates it in partnership with the State Office of Ed in terms of they facilitate the access to the schools in the state, but the Department of Health actually pays for and actually runs the surveillance system. So, again, a demonstration of another commitment that our state has had to the importance of data and adolescent health.
We also, through the capacity assessment process, were able to identify areas where we needed to focus more attention. And one of them was on partnerships. Again, when you don't have dedicated staff, it's hard to establish the partnerships that you need to work with in order to accomplish what you're trying to accomplish. And then also we needed to put additional focus in terms of policy and advocacy for adolescent health.
I want to talk a little bit about what we perceived as some of the benefits of the capacity assessment process. I think that the process enabled us to involve both internal partners, outside of the purview of Title V, and also external partners in the assessment process, so that it brought people to the table who ordinarily might not have been involved in adolescent health efforts in the past.
It's certainly helped our staff to focus on priority areas with the input from the partners and helped us tease out the focus for adolescent health, without duplicating other program's work. Because in our shop there are other programs that address some issues that are key to adolescent health, such as tobacco cessation and those kinds of things. But we didn't have any single focus on the overall adolescent health and some of the unique challenges. We were able to identify areas of strength and obviously areas where we needed to focus more work or resources.
I think just to try to promote the benefits of having dedicated adolescent health staff is that without having dedicated staff, you're not really able to identify what the key adolescent health issues are for adolescents in your states. And so for us, you know, that's helped us. Our adolescent health coordinator, who is Jenny Mayfield, she's not here she was at the partnership meeting yesterday, she has been participating in a project called Utah Safe Haven and this is a project, it was a bill that was passed several years ago by state representative at the time who is now a senator, around the issue of newborns that were being discarded, were found in bathrooms, found in dresser drawers in a home, et cetera, to promote the, what do I want to say, the ability for a parent to relinquish a newborn that is not wanted to a hospital without any legal ramifications. And so Jenny has been intimately involved in that project. Through her work has developed print materials, new print materials as well as made arrangements for 24/7 hot line and a website. And so that would not have been possible without Jenny being there dedicated to adolescent health. We also have an advisory committee. We also now, with Jenny being in places as the adolescent health coordinator, we have representation on internal and external committees that we would not have been able to accomplish before. I mentioned the partnership, and I can't say enough for what's happened with the partnership since 1999. We have a strong relationship between AMCHP and the national network. And I think we're all proud of the work that we've accomplished and the relationship strengthening that has occurred.
And also the importance is that we're trying to keep adolescent health on the radar screen for MCH and promote the importance of adolescent health and a focus on adolescent health and not get lost in all the other competing issues that happen in the world of Title V.