MPHI served as evaluator of a nationally recognized healthy homes program beginning in 2012, when the Kresge Foundation launched the “Advancing Safe and Healthy Homes for Children and Families Initiative” (ASHHI). Kresge’s interest in implementing ASHHI is part of a broader effort to reduce health disparities by improving vulnerable populations’ built and natural environments and strengthening the capacity of the organizations that serve them. Kresge provided funding to six communities in five states to strengthen and accelerate their healthy homes programming efforts.
ASHHI is based on the premise that addressing healthy homes hazards in an integrated way is efficient, produces the greatest public health impact, and is less expensive than addressing hazards individually. The initiative’s goals include the following.
ASHHI provides opportunities to communities that were not possible under traditional federal healthy housing production grants, which tend to restrict funding to housing remediation efforts. The majority of the Kresge funds (75%) were devoted to “advancing functions” – community-based activities in the areas of public policy, advocacy and community organizing, and legal enforcement – intended to create long-lasting, systemic changes. Kresge also created the ASHHI Program Office to provide grant management and support to grantees, as well as access to national experts in policy development, legal enforcement, advocacy and community organizing, communications, and information systems development.
MPHI’s evaluation team engaged with ASHHI during the grantee selection process by designing a scoring matrix that aligned with the initiative’s framework and allowed for systematic scoring. MPHI then helped grantees develop achievable goals and objectives. The team tailored its evaluation plan to fit each site’s operational flow and unique approach and developed data-collection tools and forms to track activities. The team also built relationships and maintained communication with grantees, which helped them understand grantee accomplishments, limitations, and barriers.
By the end of the three-year grant period, grantees had made substantial progress toward their production goals.
While the production-related activities directly impacted the lives of many people,
the significant community-wide impacts of the grantees’ work were the structural
and systemic changes in the communities.
Alameda County Healthy Homes Department (California)
CLEARCorps Detroit (Michigan)
Greensboro Housing Coalition (GHC; North Carolina)
Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance (Nebraska)
Healthy Homes South Los Angeles Collaborative (California)
Newark Department of Health and Community Wellness (DHCW) was also awarded an ASHHI grant but at a reduced amount and timeline.
As ASHHI entered its final year, the Kresge Foundation recognized grantees’ accomplishments, as well as the amount of work that still had to be done. The foundation awarded one-year supplemental grants of up to $125,000 to five of the six grantees to continue work related to the advancing functions. Additionally, the ASHHI Program Office encouraged grantees to partner with local health care organizations or payers of health care services to conduct pilot projects that explore the relationship between interventions in homes where children have severe asthma and potential cost savings resulting from reduced emergency room visits and hospitalizations.
MPHI’s evaluation team has been instrumental in developing the pilot project’s protocols and is currently serving as the evaluator of a project being conducted by CLEARCorps Detroit and Molina Healthcare of Michigan.
With developmental funding from The Kresge Foundation, MPHI established a “Center for Health Equity Practice” in 2015.
Following are the Center’s near-term goals.
The long-term goal is to engage the field of public health to work toward dismantling dominant narratives that maintain inequitable conditions for oppressed population groups. The Center will also focus on transforming and aligning the practice of public health to be more consistent with this goal.
MPHI’s CEO Renée Canady, Ph.D., is providing leadership and vision for the Center, and Senior Project Coordinator Doak Bloss is the lead staff member. Mr. Bloss previously served as program coordinator for the Ingham County Health Department (ICHD), where he led the Social Justice Project. This project resulted in an action plan for adopting a social justice framework for public health practice, coordination of similar dialogue processes in other health departments, and development of the Health Equity and Social Justice Workshop.
Health Equity and Social Justice Workshop (HESJ)
If local public health departments are to equalize health status among populations, it is critical to address the root causes of health inequity. However, many local health department leaders are unsure about how to orient their workforce to a practice based on a social justice framework.
While employed at the ICHD, Dr. Canady, Mr. Bloss, and community partners created and implemented the four-day HESJ Workshop. The workshop resulted from recognition that ICHD could not truly adopt a health equity framework without engaging the hearts and minds of the people who worked there. Engaging a critical mass of ICHD employees in the workshop provided a foundation for changed practice, as evidenced by evaluative data and anecdotal practice shifts.
The tasks to be accomplished during the two-year planning period include the following.
MPHI’s Center for Nursing Workforce and Policy has worked with Michigan nurses and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Nursing Policy for the past ten years, producing nursing improvement plans and three task force reports.
In 2015, MPHI worked on planning and establishing two major projects, both related to improving Transition to Practice for newly licensed nurses and experienced nurses transitioning to a new care setting.
Transition to Practice is important, since improved retention of licensed nurses joining a care provider organization (acute care, long-term care, or community-based care) lowers costs and improves care.
These two programs will be featured on a new website hosted at MPHI (www.minurse.org), which will present useful information and training opportunities to the Michigan nursing and healthcare communities.