Author Archives: nacchovoice

National Child Abuse Prevention Month: Building Community, Building Hope

By Margaret Carr, NACCHO Senior Program Assistant

The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) encourages local health departments (LHDs) to engage their communities throughout the month of April in promoting child abuse prevention efforts. April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and the theme this year is Building Community, Building Hope.

Child Abuse and Violence

Child abuse and neglect continues to be a major public health issue in the United States. In 2014, 702,000 victims of child abuse and neglect were reported to child protective services.[i]

Children are particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of violence. Early experiences and environments shape the architecture of children’s developing brains,[ii] which in turn influences the connections their brains make. For example, children who grow up in environments where they do not feel safe, learn to better recognize and respond to threats. As such, this can lead to an increased fight-or-flight response which can override other skills that enable non-violent conflict resolution. Exposure to child abuse and neglect as well as other traumatic stressors termed adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), lead to short- and long-term health and social problems.[iii] Violence is preventable and LHDs can work with their communities to ensure every child has the opportunity to grow up in a safe environment.

Child abuse is just one form of violence children may experience, however, the many forms of violence are related and often share root causes. Addressing the shared risk and protective factors for violence can prevent child abuse and violence across a life span.

The Role of Local Health Departments

LHDs play an essential role in preventing child abuse and creating a safe, healthy community for all of their residents. Interventions that include protective factors, which are those that reduce risk and encourage positive and healthy development, are proven to be successful.[iv] NACCHO’s resource, Local Health Department Efforts to Prevent Child Maltreatment highlights five evidenced-based parenting programs. LHDs can implement interventions such as home visiting and/or other parenting programs, which provide parents with the necessary skills to promote the health and well-being of their children. While these programs are beneficial, prevention efforts must go beyond individuals and families. LHDs can work with community partners (e.g. hospitals, schools, social services, non-profits) to change social norms and increase community connectedness for families. Reducing social isolation can reduce the risk for multiple forms of violence.[v] LHDs can help move the community to take collective responsibility for all children.

We encourage you to share child abuse prevention messages throughout the month of April!

Potential Messages to Share:

Resources:

 

[i] https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/childmaltreatment/

[ii] http://developingchild.harvard.edu/science/key-concepts/brain-architecture/

[iii] https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/connecting_the_dots-a.pdf

[iv] https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/guide_2017.pdf

[v] https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/Strategic_Vision.pdf

Live Well Allegheny: Paving the Way to Better Health Outcomes

logo_na2017NACCHO Annual 2017 will take place July 11­–13 in Pittsburgh. In the following blog post, Allegheny County Health Department Director Dr. Karen Hacker shares how cross-sectoral collaboration has created new opportunities for improving the health of Pittsburgh and surrounding Allegheny County.


By Karen Hacker, MD, MPH, Director, Allegheny County (PA) Health Department

Welcome to Allegheny County and its county seat, the City of Pittsburgh. Allegheny County is comprised of 130 municipalities and has a population of over 1.2 million residents (ACS 2013). Our region today provides an example of a dramatic post-industrial revitalization fueled by the health care and educational sectors. This progress is, in part, the result of a culture of collaboration between private and public sectors focused on improving the health and well-being of the region. Government, community- and faith-based organizations, academia, and foundations have worked together to achieve significant advances that are impacting the health of Allegheny County residents. These include the transformation of the riverfront, the completion of the Great Allegheny Passage bike trail from Pittsburgh to Washington, DC, the Pittsburgh Promise, a $250 million effort to promote academic success, and the implementation of award-winning job training programs. The large and committed foundation community has been deeply involved in supporting these efforts and ensuring that progress continues. As County Executive Rich Fitzgerald often says, “We come together to get things done.” Continue reading

Member Spotlight: Health Department Director Jeff Kuhr Provides His Insights on Changes in Public Health and Shares the Value of NACCHO’s Advocacy Work

Interview by Taylarr Lopez, Communications Specialist, NACCHO

NACCHO’s Member Spotlight series features interviews with local health department leaders and staff about their careers in public health. This interview features Jeff Kuhr, PhD, Director of the Mesa County Health Department in Grand Junction, CO. He has served on many boards and committees, including the current NACCHO Board of Directors and previously on the Accreditation Preparation and Quality Improvement Committee. He has been a member of NACCHO for 12 years. Below, he explains how his career in public health began, shares the highlights of his career, and discusses the challenges facing his department. Continue reading

Embracing the Community Chief Health Strategist Framework: A Q&A with NACCHO President Claude-Alix Jacob

Interview by Lindsay Tiffany, Lead of Publications, NACCHO

Claude-Alix Jacob, MPH, is Chief Public Health Officer for the Cambridge Public Health Department (MA) and the 2016–2017 NACCHO President. Jacob is a long-standing and dedicated member of NACCHO and has served on a variety of different advisory groups including the Annual Conference Workgroup, the Health Equity and Social Justice Committee, the Survive and Thrive Workgroup, and the Finance Committee. He has served on NACCHO’s Board of Directors since 2010. He recently spoke to NACCHO Voice about his perspective on the Community Chief Health Strategist framework.

  • What does the concept of the Community Chief Health Strategist mean to you and how do you and your colleagues serve in this role in your community? How can other local health departments operationalize this framework?

Building a culture of health in Cambridge has been part of a major health improvement initiative led by the Cambridge Public Health Department. The concept of the community chief health strategist has been actualized through the development of the city’s health agenda. In 2014, our department completed a comprehensive health assessment and engaged city and community partners in developing the city’s first-ever community health improvement plan. What we learned through the process is that we have convening power—the ability (and the space in which) to bring partners to the table to look at our community’s health needs. We conducted a citywide survey, held focus groups with various demographic groups, and interviewed key stakeholders and representatives of the city’s leadership. Then, by consensus we agreed on the priority areas for the city through 2020, which include mental health and substance abuse, violence, housing, and healthy eating/active living. Continue reading

Local Approaches to Preventing Teen Dating Violence

By Blaire Bryant, MPH, NACCHO and Melanie Ruhe, MPH, NACCHO

This story originally ran in NACCHO’s Healthy People, Healthy Places blog.

Teen Dating Violence (TDV) – the physical, sexual, psychological, or emotional violence within a dating relationship – is a serious matter that affects many teenagers. According to a 2011 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) survey, 23% of females and 14% of males who experienced rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner, first experienced some form of partner violence between the ages of 11 and 17 years. The 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) survey found that approximately 10% of high school students reported physical victimization and 10% reported sexual victimization from a dating partner in the 12 months before they were surveyed. As teens (individuals aging from 13 to 19 years old) mature into adulthood, initial relationships are formative and shape expectations that persist throughout life. Unhealthy experiences can result in negative long- and short-term consequences, therefore it is essential to emphasize teen dating violence prevention early on. Continue reading

NACCHO Annual: The Gift that Keeps on Giving

By Terry Allan, MPH, Health Commissioner, Cuyahoga County (OH) Board of Health (Greater Cleveland)

Terry Allan has nearly three decades of experience in local public health. Allan served as NACCHO President in 2013–2014 and has attended 13 NACCHO Annual conferences. In the following post, he describes how the education, relationships, and perspective he gains at NACCHO Annual fuel his work all year long.

I’m a native Clevelander so I am happy to be serving the community at the Cuyahoga County Board of Health. We serve a population of 850,000. I’ve been here for 28 years, working on a wide range of public health programs before becoming the health commissioner in 2004. During my career, I’ve had the opportunity to work with NACCHO at the national level on a variety of issues. I met some well-respected folks early in my career who talked about the value of NACCHO. They shared the importance of being connected to your national peers and how those relationships often open up new opportunities to learn about programs and current trends and to understand the trajectory of public health and where local practice is headed. Those initial conversations with fellow local health officials got me involved. I joined the board and participated on a number of committees. Eventually, in 2012, I ran and was elected president-elect and became president in 2013. Continue reading

Curbing Opioid Overdose Using Programmatic and Geospatial Data

By Kate Lena, MPH, Linkages to Care Coordinator, AHOPE Needle Exchange Program, Boston Public Health Commission

This is an excerpt from the 2017 NACCHO Exchange Winter Issue on opioids.

Opioid misuse is highly stigmatized and criminalized, making people who inject opioids an especially hard-to-reach, high-risk population and hampering public health surveillance efforts to understand the timing, circumstances, and proximate causes of overdose events. Boston Public Health Commission’s needle exchange program, AHOPE, has spent more than a decade working to overcome those obstacles. Launched in 2006, AHOPE—Massachusetts’s first community Overdose Education and Naloxone Distribution (OEND) pilot program—distributes harm reduction supplies to people who inject drugs.1 Continue reading