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Highlights

Highlighting Collaboration with Title V

The Division of MCH Workforce Development (DMCHWD) collaborates with and provides technical assistance for State, Territorial, and Jursidictional Title V programs. This month, DMCHWD shares updates on this collaboration from across the network.


MCH Timeline websiteMCH Timeline

In August of 1935, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law. Title V provided programs for maternity, infant, and child care, as well as a full range of medical services for children. Funds were allocated to states to pay for Maternal and Child Health and Crippled Children services, including physicians, dentists, public health nurses, medical social workers, and nutritionists. Learn more about Title V and other MCH-related points in history on the MCH Timeline.

Program Highlights

MCH Navigator - Title V @ 85: Beyond Legislation, Bold Leaders, and Bright Legacies

This year, we are celebrating 85 years since the passage of Title V of the Social Security Act on August 14, 1935. The passing of Title V was a major milestone for the United States, as it indicated a commitment of the federal government to promote the health and welfare of all women and children. Since the passing of Title V, maternal and child health (MCH) has evolved significantly through legislation, leadership, and programmatic legacies of HRSA's Maternal and Child Health Bureau. First signed into law by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Title V was created as part of broad social legislation, aiming to promote and improve maternal and child health throughout the country. Title V remains the longest lasting social and public health legislation in American history.

The MCH Navigator , in collaboration with the MCH Evidence Center , has developed a resource in the MCH Library –  Title V @ 85: Beyond Legislation, Bold Leaders, and Bright Legacies – that details a number of monumental milestones throughout the history of Title V that have impacted the health and welfare of women and children. Since its inception 85 years ago, Title V and its related programs have continued to assure the delivery and measurement of health care services to all mothers, infants, children, adolescents, youth, and children and youth with special health care needs (CYSHCN) in the nation – including those with low incomes, diverse ethnic or racial backgrounds, or isolated populations with limited access to care. Through Title V, the Federal Government also has pledged it support of State efforts to extend health and welfare services for mothers and children, resulting in the establishment of State departments of health or public welfare in some states, and facilitated the efforts of existing agencies in others.

Also included in the article in the MCH Library is a detailed account of each of the 11 directors of MCHB since its beginning. This tool enables those who are interested to explore their stories before, during and after serving as the federal leaders in support of MCH, which will provide information on a wide range of MCH topics. Readers will also be able to explore how MCHB operates today, what progress has been made throughout its history, and what projects and resources are currently being focused on for future improvements. The work of the Maternal and Child Health Bureau is ongoing and will continue to strive for progress and equity in health and wellness for our women and children.


National MCH Workforce Development Center - Advancing Health TransformationTitle V MCH Internship

The field of MCH has embraced health equity as an essential priority. In order to ensure that this priority can be sustained, it is critical to develop a pipeline of MCH professionals who are invested in the work of governmental public health including Title V, explicitly trained in maternal and child health, and who approach public health problems with an equity lens.  With these concerns in mind, the Title V MCH InternshipProgram , administered by the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health Center of Excellence in MCH as part of the National MCH Workforce Development Center, has been working since 2014 to build the skills and capacity of the pipeline of MCH graduate and undergraduate students by providing these future MCH professionals with experience working in state Title V agencies through the Title V MCH Internship Program. The Title V Internship Program is unique because it places teams of MCH students from graduate and undergraduate programs in state Title V agencies to work on a variety of projects.

Since 2014, the Title V MCH Internship Program has facilitated the implementation of 61 projects in Title V agencies across all 10 HRSA regions, in 26 states and one territory. In total, 118 students from 24 institutions with MCHB-funded training programs have participated as Title V MCH interns. The teams of students engage in projects to assist state Title V programs to meet their varied needs, which have included working on their Title V needs assessments, creating marketing materials, and developing data briefs to connect with stakeholders, among other projects.  All projects are connected to either state or national performance measures and/or state action plans. Title V MCH Interns receive training on the following topics: leadership, mentorship, MCH systems, and Title V. Student interns expand their capacity to work in teams and collaborate with Title V staff to accomplish the projects' goals. 

In summer 2020, the Title V Internship took place in 12 states across the US and its territories, with 22 students from seven Centers of Excellence in MCH, three MCH Catalyst Center programs, and three MCH Pipeline programs.  The entire 2020 internship experience was virtual and at the end of the internship, the teams presented their work in a 2020 Title V MCH Internship Celebration .

Logos representing 15 different universities as well as the National MCH Workforce Development Center


Perspectives from 2020 Title V Interns

Kate Jacobsen

University of Washington School of Public Health, Department of Health Services, Center of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health; Iowa Department of Public Health

This summer, I had the opportunity to participate in the National MCH Workforce Development Center Title V internship. While the internship could not be completed in person due to COVID-19 restrictions, it was still a worthwhile and formative experience. I greatly enjoyed being able to work at the state level, with the Iowa Department of Public Health, and contributing to an evidence based training guide for Title V partner agencies. As someone with little previous experience working at the state level, I appreciated the opportunity to learn more about what happens in the day-to-day operations within a Bureau of Family Health. I felt honored to be a part of this work and was able to see how even though work at this level can be difficult and comes with it's own challenges, it has real power and holds the ability to move the needle when it comes to some of these maternal and child health issues and inequities that I care deeply about. Since completing this internship, I have decided to pursue career opportunities with the Washington State Department of Public Health after graduation. In addition to the work that I was able to complete with the Iowa Department of Public Health, I enjoyed taking advantage of all of the benefits that the internship had to offer, such as the professional development workshops, team-building calls with Dr. Janine Hill, and the networking opportunities and connections that I made. I am grateful for this opportunity and would like to thank my team member Chariesse Ellis, the Iowa Department of Public Health, the UW Center of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health, the National MCH Workforce Development Center, and the HRSA Maternal and Child Health Bureau for making this possible.


Grace Krueger

Berkeley School of Public Health; Tulane/Mississippi Department of Health

Over the summer, Grace worked remotely with a co-intern from the Tulane Center of Excellence in MCH  at the Mississippi State Department of Health  (MSDH) in Jackson, MS . The goal of their project was to craft a social media strategy for the MCH division of MSDH and design social media content that promoted MCH programs and services and provided health education. They conducted a literature review that examined the use of social media by public health departments and summarized these findings, and relevant recommendations for MSDH, in a written document. They then collaborated with MSDH MCH staff to understand the health priorities of MCH populations in Mississippi and what services the MSDH staff wanted to highlight.  

In total, 11 fact sheets and 20 social media posts were created that covered prioritized topics from all five MCH population domains and highlighted MSDH programs and services, as well as general MCH health promotion. Grace and her co-intern also had the opportunity to create social media content aimed at lessening the impact of COVID-19 on MCH populations. The MSDH Communications Department will publish the fact sheets on the MSDH website and disseminate the social media posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Through this internship, Grace was able to develop her communication skills by creating public health messaging aimed at broad audiences. She also continued to develop her cultural competency skills by ensuring the literacy level of the documents and social media posts were appropriate, and by using images, illustrations and language that were inclusive and representative. Grace enjoyed learning about the Mississippi Title V program, networking with Title V interns at other state health departments and attending trainings and webinars hosted by the National MCH Workforce Development Center.


Pasua Chang

MCH Pipeline Training Program, University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee; Minnesota Department of Health

This summer, I had the opportunity to be part of the Title V - MCH Internship. Although this experience had to be done virtually, I still had a great time and enjoyed working with my preceptor and graduate student partner. I was assigned to work under Alina Kraynak, the Women's Health Consultant in the Women & Infant Unit. Alina was an incredible resource and also very understanding.

One of the tasks that I am most proud of was participating in the creation of a policy brief on state policies that require perinatal health providers to complete diversity and inclusion training and what the requirements for this training consisted of. Although many policies were similar, there were some policies that did not make training mandatory. Most, if not all, policies required collecting data on health outcomes. This information is relevant for future policymakers who are working towards equity in perinatal health.


Jennifer Ming Yin Su

University of South Florida Pipeline Program; Tennessee Department of Health

I had the opportunity to work remotely from Hong Kong as a Title V Intern. It has been a fruitful summer and the experience to work as an intern in the Tennessee Department of Health has given me a golden opportunity to polish my existing skills while acquiring new skills. The goal was to conduct a qualitative evaluation of the state-funded cessation program for pregnant women called Baby and Me Tobacco Free (BMTF). The major accomplishments that were made throughout my time as an intern were drafting key informant interviews, participant focus group questions, and post-program survey questions. I partook in developing a cost-saving estimate for the BMTF program based on other states' estimates as a reference. We also conducted literature reviews on program evaluation, smoking cessation programs for pregnant women, and cost-saving estimates. This internship has provided me with many first-time experiences, especially with it being my first time working in a state-level agency and learning its structure and systems. It is also my first time working remotely for two months as an intern, since I had to travel to Hong Kong during the pandemic to be with family. It was challenging to delegate the work between our team and submit the tasks on time to our preceptor. However, this unique experience has provided a platform for me to advance my skills in effective communication despite being halfway across the world. As an aspiring future physician in the field of gynecology, this was a great opportunity to use the lens of a public health professional and evaluate the systemic healthcare issues that women face.

Grantee Highlights

A Synergy of Strengths – Title V collaboration with DMCHWD in Nebraska

NEP-MAP Nebraska Partnership for Mental Healthcare Access in Pediatrics Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health

Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services was a successful applicant for the DMCHWD Pediatric Mental Health Care Access Program in 2018 – with Nebraska's Title V agency leading project direction and management.  Today, the University of Nebraska Medical Center Munroe Meyer Institute delivers a clinical demonstration project and the behavioral health expert team.  Yet the scope of NEP-MAP (the Nebraska Partnership for Mental Healthcare Access in Pediatrics) is much broader than the clinical demonstration project alone. 

With Title V as lead agency, NEP-MAP is grounded in strong principles of equity, family-centered care, inclusion, and systems change.  A large statewide Systems Advisory Committee, which includes family members and family advocates as equal and respected partners along with all others, meets quarterly.  The advisory committee helps ensure that NEP-MAP activities don't occur in a silo. NEP-MAP promotes integration and alignment with other system efforts and resources – in order to make a greater and more lasting positive impact on outcomes in the population.  

The NEP-MAP Systems Advisory Committee is also home to several Technical Workgroups that draw specifically on the expertise of partners across the state to advance project goals and objectives.  In the area of Screening, a common agenda exists to increase screening and referrals in both community and clinical settings, using standardized and normed instruments that are culturally- and linguistically-appropriate for family members.  One of the NEP-MAP Technical Workgroups produced a Screening and Referral Guide, which takes a life course approach to screening for mental well-being among children, youth, and their parents/caregivers. NEP-MAP, working with the clinical project partners and behavioral health consultants, also delivers training in behavioral health to primary care providers in rural and underserved areas of the state, in both clinical and community settings.  

Title V has identified mental health topics affecting MCH populations in Nebraska as priorities in each of the last three five-year statewide needs assessment cycles, in the form of maternal depression, youth suicide, early childhood development, and/or access to mental and behavioral health services for children with and without special health care needs.  Title V has long been engaged in workforce development projects.  Heading into late 2020, the need for "all hands on deck" in terms of helping address mental health needs as they impact MCH populations has never been so immediate and visible.

Nebraska Title V continuously delivers training and professional development to licensed health care professionals, to the Community Health Worker workforce, and to youth-serving professionals from across education and health sectors.  Stepping into the role of delivering workforce development in order to increase the capacity of primary care providers to screen, refer, and treat children and youth with mild to moderate mental health conditions was a natural and important collaboration for Title V.

For more information contact: Kathy.karsting@nebraska.gov


Power in Partnerships

UAB Pediatric Pulmonary Center on behalf of the Alabama MCH Network

Former MCHB Associate Administrator Dr. Michael Lu was fond of quoting an African proverb: "if you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together." He used this quote often to talk about the power of partnerships in Maternal and Child Health. Alabama has been home to multiple DMCHWD grantees over time, including LEND, LEAH, PPC, MCH Nutrition, MCH Pipeline, Pediatric Access to Mental Health, Centers of Excellence, and MCH Nursing. Many years ago the grantees formed the Alabama MCH Leadership Network, with the goal of providing collaborative training, raising awareness of MCH throughout the state, and creating synergy between grantees. Network grantees meet monthly for program updates and to plan joint events, typically one trainee networking event and two seminars in each academic year. Trainees are also encouraged to rotate across project sites. In June of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic caused the annual "Grand Rounds" visit to the UAB campus by the Alabama State University Pipeline trainees to become a virtual event. Trainees from the other Network grantees stepped up to plan and implement a well-received "virtual visit" to explore MCH careers and graduate programs. The Network maintains a joint web page . Title V collaboration extends to the state level as well.  As one of the few states with the MCH and CSHCN programs housed in different state agencies, the Alabama state Title V programs began having regular collaborative meetings in the late 1990s. In the early 2000s, these collaborative efforts expanded to include all Title V funded programs in the state, including Family Voices, training and home visiting grantees, and later expanded to include representatives from partners such as the state Medicaid agency. Now held three times a year, these meetings provide an opportunity for sharing of program updates, developing professional relationships, planning collaborative work, and modeling these collaborations for trainees.  


Children's Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) Leadership Education in Adolescent Health (LEAH)

Title V Collaborative Activities

Children's Hospital Los Angeles is fortunate to have a range of interdisciplinary MCHB funded training programs, some of which have been operating for a long time and some that are brand new.  These include: 

  • California Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (CA-LEND) program, which trains leaders, educates community providers, conducts research and promotes systems change to improve the health of children with, or at risk for, neurodevelopmental disabilities (funded since 1966)
  • Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics Training Program (DBP), which aims to build the capacity of professionals to evaluate, diagnose, develop and provide evidence-based interventions to individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and other developmental disabilities (funded in 2013)
  • Leadership Education in Adolescent Health (LEAH) program, which provides interdisciplinary training to prepare leaders in clinical care, research, public health policy and advocacy as it relates to adolescent health (funded in 2017)
  • Pediatric Pulmonary Center (PPC), dedicated to developing leaders who will improve the health of children with respiratory conditions (funded in 2020)

While these programs are based at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, they are physically housed at three different sites in the central Los Angeles area. Historically, we relied primarily on two shared faculty to keep each other current on our individual training activities.  The pandemic and the pivot to virtual meetings created new opportunities for faculty collaboration and for trainees to learn together.   Preliminary plans for the 20-21 training year include, but are not limited to, the following: 1) combining components of our respective leadership training for fellows across programs; 2) collaborating on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) education and projects for trainees; 3) creating a community advisory board to advise all 4 programs; 4) exploring strategies to expand the diversity of trainees in the future; and 5) creating a shared forum for the final presentation of CA-LEND, DBP, LEAH, and PPC fellow projects. 


Kennedy Krieger Institute Hosts Virtual Summer Research Program to Promote Health Equity

Center for Diversity in Public Health Leadership Training at Kennedy Krieger InstituteKennedy Krieger Institute hosted seven Maternal Child Health-Leadership, Education, Advocacy, and Research Network (MCH- LEARN) scholars this summer who attended college in the Maryland and Washington, DC region. Scholars participated in virtual seminars on (1) Prevention of Health Disparities Across the Life Course using National Academy of Sciences reports as a foundation for readings, (2) Research Accountability and Design Seminars, (3) Professional Development and Advocacy Seminars, and (4) Examining CDC Winnable Battles through a Social and Cultural Lens. A mentoring team was developed for MCH-LEARN scholars that included both a researcher and professional developmental mentor during their 10-week MCH research, leadership and advocacy experience. The scholars showcased their summer MCH research projects virtually during the Johns Hopkins Career, Academic, and Research Experiences for Students (C.A.R.E.S) Symposium. Each MCH-LEARN scholar submitted their research for presentation to the Annual Biomedical Conference for Minority Students. The MCH-LEARN program is designed to prepare scholars to conduct original research and to address the social determinants of health and health disparities through research, advocacy, and practice. Below are the scholars' future career goals and research project titles.

Biostatistician: Associated Risk Factors of Language-Based Disorders in Sickle Cell Disease

Lawyer/Public Health and Equity Advocate: Everyday Racial Discrimination Experiences, Cumulative Violence, and Substance Use among Black Young Men: Moderating Effect of Masculinity Norms

Psychologist: Parenting as a Protective Factor for Youth Exposed to Violence in Adolescence

Public Health Medical Professional, Research, Advocate Doctor, OB/GYN: Comparing Apples and Oranges: Examining Developmental and Behavioral Differences Between Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Young Children with Developmental Delay Research Disparities in Health Disparities: Social Determinants of Health and Nursing Research

Neuroscience and Linguistics, Research, Academics Psychologist/Business Owner: Telehealth Satisfaction at Kennedy Krieger Institute During the SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic Translatable and Preventive Perinatal HIV Transmission Strategies

 


Collaborating to Improve Healthcare Transition Outcomes

WI LEND

The Waisman Center University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is the home of the WI Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) Training program, and also contracts with the state's Title V Block Grant program at the WI Department of Health Services for several of the state's Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs (CYSHCN) programs, including the WI Youth Health Transition Initiative.  In 2020, two LEND trainees made significant contributions to the work of the Health Transition Initiative as part of their practicum and summer research experiences. 

In May 2020, LEND graduate Kristen Crabtree, DNP, presented to over 70 members of the Health Transition Learning Community on "Supported Decision-Making: What Health Professionals Need to Know." This webinar focused on how health professionals can use a Supported Decision-Making process in their practice for youth with special health care needs to encourage independence in decision-making. A Supported Decision-Making agreement can be used as an alternative to or as a tool under guardianship. Attorney George Zaske provided a parent perspective. Kristen's presentation is incorporated into one of the modules of the Youth Health Transition curriculum for health professionals.

Video of the session .

From May-August 2020 Kelly Kuehl, a medical student and intermediate LEND trainee at UW-Madison, completed a summer research experience through the Shapiro Scholarship Program, working with Anne Harris, WI LEND Director and Maria Stanley, Waisman Center Medical Director.  The goal of the project was to determine the needs and barriers related to obtaining high quality healthcare and healthcare transition for adults with Down syndrome (DS) in Wisconsin as perceived by stakeholders within the DS and health care communities.  While the original plan was to engage with the community through in-person meetings and interviews, Kelly transitioned her work to online data gathering due to COVID-19.  Significant findings are being used to inform training curricula and transition outreach activities by the Youth Health Transition Initiative.  These two examples represent just two of the ways in which the LEND program collaborates with the WI Title V CYSHCN programs to train professionals and improve services for CYSHCN and their families.

New York State Title V and MCH programs partner to support state's COVID-19 Maternity Task Force

University at Albany School of Public Health Maternal and Child Health Program (Maternal and Child Health Public Health Catalyst Program Grantee)

This spring, the University at Albany (UAlbany) School of Public Health's Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Program was tapped to support the state's COVID-19 Maternity Task Force by helping to review the impact of COVID-19 on pregnancy.

The task force was established in April 2020 by Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa and the New York State Council on Women and Girls, and was convened to address challenges related to COVID-19 for pregnant people. Part of the task force's charge included conducting a literature review to help the task force assess the impact of COVID-19 on pregnancy and make recommendations.

Staff from the New York State Department of Health's Division of Family Health collaborated with faculty and students from the UAlbany MCH Program to complete the review, which included early published and gray literature and emerging guidelines from governmental and professional medical organizations.  The Division of Family Health oversees the New York's Title V Program and is a longstanding partner of the MCH program.

The team presented a summary of its preliminary findings in a webinar with the state's regional perinatal centers in May. A copy of the early review and other COVID-19 resources are available on the NYS Perinatal Quality Collaborative website .


The University of Florida Pediatric Pulmonary Center, Gainesville FL

University of Florida Pediatric Pulmonary Center (UF PPC) and the Florida Department of Health Children's Medical Services Title V Office of Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs (FL DOH CMS) Collaboration: The Florida Family Leader Network (FFLN).

The FFLN is a collaboration between the Florida Network of MCHB programs and the FL DOH CMS and is coordinated by the UF PPC.

The Florida MCHB network, which includes the UF PPC, University of Miami Mailman Center on Leadership and Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (UMLEND), the University of South Florida (USF) School of Public Health Center of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health Education Science and Practice met for their annual meeting in 2016. Representatives from FL DOH CMS and community family leaders were also in attendance. Discussions at the meeting confirmed the MCHB programs' commitment to strengthening family-professional partnerships in Florida. Family leaders expressed a desire to connect with one another as they reported often feeling isolated in their individual settings. There was consensus that family leaders needed and wanted to improve their leadership skills and the best setting for this would be in collaboration with compassionate, supportive health professionals. The FFLN emerged as an outcome of this meeting.

The goal of the FFLN is to "breakdown silos to optimize the health and wellbeing of CYSHCN." The network is a family-professional partnership comprising family/youth leaders and professionals in Florida. It currently has more than 180 members, two thirds of whom are family/youth leaders. Angela Miney, the UF PPC Family Partner, coordinates the network's activities. Members connect via a private Facebook group and listserv. Webcasts sponsored by the FFLN include topics on supported decision making, advocacy, and patient and family-centered care.

Since 2018, the FFLN has met for an annual summit which fosters the goals of networking and leadership development. The 2020 virtual summit "Developing Partnerships" had over 130 participants, with sessions on "Resonant Leadership", "Friendship in the Time of COVID'" and "Family Youth Engagement". For more information visit the FFLN website .


Georgia State University's Partnerships with the Georgia Title V Program

Center for Leadership in Disability, Georgia State University, Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities

The Center for Leadership in Disability (CLD) at Georgia State University (GSU) collaborates with Georgia's Title V program across five different initiatives under their Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs (CYSHCN) and home visiting programs. Beginning in 2015, GSU and the Georgia Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (GaLEND) program began supporting Georgia's Title V CYSHCN program on the following three projects:

  1. providing positive behavior support (PBS) training for Part C early intervention providers and families of young children,
  2. organizing Georgia's autism stakeholders and initiatives into a comprehensive plan referred to as the Autism Plan for Georgia , and
  3. supporting an annual Autism Conference & Expo , which brings together all of Georgia's autism stakeholders to learn from and network with each other.

 

Through the PBS project, GSU has provided nearly 600 in-home coaching sessions to families in Part C on the use of PBS with their young children. We have trained over 100 families on PBS in small-group trainings, and we have trained 1,358 Part C Early Intervention providers on the use of PBS in the homes. The annual Autism Conference & Expo has provided professional development and networking in the area of autism policy, advocacy, and supports to over 3,000 registrants over the past five years. The GaLEND trainees support all of the Title V CYSHCN projects and they report the value of their experience. For example, one social work trainee noted:

"As a social work trainee, I had the opportunity to participate in multiple positive behavior support trainings for families. In addition to providing me with helpful strategies that I could use with families, this experience also provided insight into the diverse job responsibilities of social workers. This project allowed me to observe a licensed master social worker provide didactic trainings and individual consultation with families, develop curricula and resources, collaborate with local and state partners, and participate in a research study. Lastly, by traveling throughout Georgia, I became more aware of the gaps in services and various struggles that families were experiencing daily."

In 2019, GSU partnered with Georgia's home visiting program to evaluate the use of the Learn the Signs.Act Early (LTSAE) and Talk With Me Baby (TWMB) curricula within home visiting settings. GSU has engaged 12 home visitors and 31 families in the use of LTSAE and TWMB. In 2020, GSU and Georgia's Part C program began a five-year partnership to rebuild Georgia's Early Childhood Intervention Comprehensive System of Personnel Development. Through this new initiative, GSU and Georgia's Part C program will support the following activities: (a) creating a Part C leadership program; (b) creating an early childhood higher education consortium; (c) building a scholarship program for Part C providers; and (c) increasing the early childhood intervention content in Georgia's university training programs. 

Trainee Highlights

Time with TAG

Rachel Klenzman

University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) MCH Nutrition Leadership Trainee

While working on my BS in Dietetics, I spent one summer as a research assistant in the Center for Perinatal Research at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Part of my role as a research assistant was to administer surveys to mothers in the NICU, which allowed me the opportunity to spend my days hearing about the infant feeding challenges and successes of mothers, and learning from the dietitians and lactation consultants about how they support these families. Beyond the clinical elements of infant nutrition in the NICU, these encounters had me questioning and exploring public health messages about infant feeding. This incredible experience is what ignited my passion for maternal and child health and nutrition and ultimately led me to pursue a dual MS in Nutrition and MPH at the University of Tennessee and apply for their MCH Nutrition Education and Leadership Training Program.

Being a part of the MCH Nutrition Training Program, I have had a variety of opportunities to prepare me for a career in public health nutrition. I've worked on numerous public health nutrition projects, such the facilitating the East Tennessee Childhood Obesity Coalition and organizing the biannual Promoting Healthy Weight Colloquium , attend and present at several national conferences, including the Association of State Public Health Nutritionists' (ASPHN) annual meetings, and participate in the Peer Mentoring Network and Trainee Ambassador Group. All of these experiences, combined with the education I am receiving from UTK, have me excited and ready to embrace a career that focuses on supporting women and infants achieve their health and nutrition goals.


Alexandra Trautman

Drexel University's Dornsife School of Public Health MCH Catalyst Program

My interest in Maternal and Child Health (MCH) flourished when I served as a teacher in Louisiana for the two years between my undergraduate degree and my Master of Public Health (MPH) degree. I became a MCH Catalyst Program trainee in the Fall of 2018 when I became a MPH student at Drexel University's Dornsife School of Public Health. I learned a lot of valuable content and skills as an MCH trainee from the excellent programming that was offered. This increased my passion for MCH and led me run for President of the Preconception Peer Educators student group and to attend my first professional conference, the Making Lifelong Connections (MLC) annual meeting.

After these experiences, I knew I wanted to further enhance my leadership and networking skills in the MCH field. I was thrilled when I was accepted to be one of the ten Trainee Ambassador Group (TAG) members for the 2020 year. I applied to be on the TAG's MLC committee because the conference had such a positive impact on my trainee experience. I wanted to be part of the planning that would motivate and inspire others. When the COVID-19 pandemic caused the conference to go virtual, fellow committee members and I had to quickly pivot to produce something engaging and informative in a new setting. I felt very fortunate to be working so closely with two amazing and talented TAG members. Because the conference was held in the first quarter of the year, my responsibilities significantly decreased after that time. I was able to pivot to the TAG's MCH Article Club committee. I've continued to attend committee meetings and posted an article for one of the monthly discussions in the MCH in ACTION National Initiative Facebook Group.

The experiences and skills I developed this year working with the TAG and planning a TAG's virtual presentation for the MLC annual meeting set me up for success during my virtual fellowship this summer. It has been a wonderful experience to collaborate with other passionate MCH students and professionals and I look forward to seeing what else we can do in these last few months. I hope that we can all get together in person one day and celebrate all that we accomplished!

Shelby Davies, MD

Fellow Physician, Division of Adolescent Medicine, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Leadership Education in Adolescent Health (LEAH) Program

My medical career has been shaped by the concept of social medicine, which seeks to improve health through clinical care, community outreach, research and advocacy. Providing equitable care to youth in my opinion is one of the best possible forms of social activism. Youth exist within communities marked by significant health disparities and unfortunately these disparities underlie different cultural expectations. I see it as my responsibility as an adolescent medicine provider to constantly be asking myself, what are we doing to engage all of our youth to accomplish their goals and constructively contribute to their communities and futures.

a group of LEAH Fellows visiting the Pennsylvania state capitolI have had the honor and privilege to participate in the CHOP Leadership Education in Adolescent Health (LEAH) Program as part of my medical fellowship training in the Division of Adolescent Medicine. The program is supported by a federal training grant from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau. In January 2020, as part of the CHOP LEAH Fellowship curriculum, all Fellows had the exciting opportunity to visit our state capitol in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to meet with the leaders and staff of the Title V Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant Program, administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. This experience introduced me to the vast array of Title V-supported services, and the ways in which the funds seek to create community, state and federal partnerships to support youth. The LEAH fellows and faculty also had an opportunity to share their own experiences and answer questions from Title V Program staff about a variety of adolescent and young adult health issues.

Learning more about Title V has helped me as a developing adolescent medicine specialist to understand how we can empower, engage and partner with each other. This partnership can be done at the community, state and federal levels through collaboration and grant support of these critical youth development projects to create the community infrastructure needed to engage our youth. With improved infrastructure, we can empower our youth from all communities to be their best selves.


Somadee Cheam

University of Minnesota MCH Nutrition Trainee

Somadee Cheam, a MCH Nutrition Trainee at the University of Minnesota, worked with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to support the Title V needs assessment. Over a two year period, MDH partnered with communities and stakeholders to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the health and well-being of Minnesota's MCH populations. The needs assessment identified 11 priority areas.

Teams were developed to identify and implement strategies to address the 11 priority needs into a statewide strategic plan. This plan will guide work on improving MCH systems over the next 5 years. Somadee worked on six priority areas, focusing on the creation of educational materials for the strategy teams. Some of the activities she was involved in included disseminating data to strategy groups, explaining and summarizing relevant details of needs assessment priorities while highlighting disparities within the state, and strategy reviews for priority areas based on a review of literature and national standards, with an emphasis on innovative and emerging practices. In addition to the "behind the scenes" work, Somadee participated in planning meetings with one of the eleven strategy groups. These experiences were valuable in underscoring the importance of innovative strategies and community-engaged processes in understanding and addressing MCH needs of the state.

Center of Excellence in MCH Education, Science and Practice, University of Minnesota, School of Public Health

Abigail Fink

As an MCH student at the University of Minnesota, I have had the opportunity to intern with the Title V Needs Assessment team at the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) . Through this internship, I have learned invaluable lessons about data accessibility.

After the selection of Minnesota priority needs, the Title V Needs Assessment team helped facilitate strategy teams to engage community members and stakeholders in identifying strategies to address each priority need. To inform their decisions, strategy teams were given brief PowerPoints with state-level data on each priority need.

One of the projects I worked on involved creating these presentations. When making these presentations, I helped to develop "data biographies" for each data source referenced. Data biographies outline key information about a data set to help to ensure that the data is used responsibly, transparently, and ethically. Generally, data biographies list who conducted data collection, who the data belongs to, how the data were collected, where it was collected and where is it kept, how it will be used and why it was collected, how old the data is, and finally, how frequently the data are collected (Krause 2020). In our presentations at MDH, we also included the limitations of each data set.

Through this process, I learned that being transparent about the story behind the data, and the limitations that should be considered when interpreting it, is essential for ensuring that anyone from the community–no matter how familiar with data collection and analysis–can understand the data being presented. Data biographies hold those analyzing and using the data accountable and build trust with communities (Krause 2020). This experience highlighted important lessons for me on the ethical and responsible use of data because I learned how to communicate data in a way that is accessible for everyone and how to take the time to truly understand the story behind the dataset I am using before drawing any conclusions.

Additional resources:

Source: Krause, H. (2020, May 14). An Introduction to the Data Biography / We All Count. Retrieved September 22, 2020


Liz Corey, MPH

Submitted by Liz Corey, MPH (2020), a former trainee at the Center of Excellence in MCH Education, Science and Practice, University of Minnesota (UMN) School of Public Health (SPH) and a recent graduate of the UMN SPH with a major in MCH and a minor in Epidemiology. She completed undergraduate degrees in sociology and anthropology at Montana State University, then went on to work with nonprofits addressing food insecurity, mental illness, substance use, homelessness, and adolescent pregnancy primarily as a case manager. She enjoys making connections between public health and other industries to address health issues using a cross-sector and holistic approach. Liz is a Prevention Program Administrator in the Injury and Violence Prevention section at the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) where she is committed to building the capacity of current prevention programming to better serve women and families.

Throughout my nearly two years deployed to the Title V team at the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) I worked on many written projects designed to communicate findings from the Title V needs assessment to diverse groups of stakeholders. While these written products primarily focused on sharing results from needs assessment activities, they also served the purpose of describing social determinants of health and factors that have led to health inequities in the state. A centering component of all of this work was intersectionality . We conceptualized intersectionality as the interconnection between different aspects of an individual's life and systems of oppression that influence overall health. 

Intersectionality was a term that I was familiar with prior to my deployment, but seeing how intersectionality informed all Title V needs assessment methods deepened my understanding of the concept. During strategic planning, I participated on a team of stakeholders that was tasked with developing three to five strategies that would improve the health and well-being of boys and young men. When I would tell other MCH colleagues about my work in this area, they were surprised that boys and young men were being prioritized but also expressed that it was a long overdue acknowledgement that the health of boys and young men has important implications for the health of women and families. It was an impactful experience to be involved from the very beginning of developing Title V strategies that recognized the impact of the complex interactions of systemic racism, poverty, and historical trauma on the health of Minnesota women and children while also cultivating a new approach to how the MDH provides funding and programming that is inclusive of the larger family and community systems.

I am taking the lessons I learned during my Title V internship about intersectionality, family systems, and the impact of trauma on health into my current role as a prevention program administrator with the MDH. In this position, I am developing connections between the injury and violence prevention and maternal and child health sections to build organizational capacity to respond with intersectionality-informed programming to improve the lives of women, children, and families. 

Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine MCH Nutrition Trainees

Jacque Futch, Miguel Angel Lopez, Taryn Smith, and Erin Morini

As MCH Nutrition trainees at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, we provided programmatic support to the Bureau of Family Health's Children's Healthy Weight Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network (CoIIN) – Innovative Nutrition Integration (INI) project. Working directly with the Neonatal Initiatives and Title V Strategy Managers, we identified opportunities within the Bureau's current work where nutrition strategies could be implemented or expanded upon. We also worked with Bureau staff to support the integration of nutrition into the Title V Block Grant Performance measures, focusing on the health of infants, mothers, young adults, and children with special healthcare needs. We reviewed best practices and opportunities to integrate nutrition into their work focusing on different domains such as diversity, inclusion, food security, and U.S. food and nutrition policy. We were also able to develop MCH Nutrition resources for Bureau staff to consider which all received positive feedback. The Bureau of Family Health allowed us as students to exercise our professional skills and empowered us to be confident in our nutrition knowledge. We truly felt heard, respected, and trusted while being given the space to showcase our public health education and experiences we have had with the New Orleans community.

Western Partners in Excellence for Leadership in MCH Nutrition

Suzanne Haydu

Nutrition and Physical Activity Coordinator, California Department of Public Health, Maternal and Child and Adolescent Health (MCAH), Sacramento, CA

Suzanne Haydu has been a member/"trainee" of the Western Partners in Excellence for Leadership in MCH Nutrition, Nutrition Leadership Network (NLN) since its inception more than 20 years ago. Suzanne has taken leadership for the MCAH Division at the CA Department of Public Health (CDPH) to a new level. She has led numerous innovative efforts at the State to improve maternal and child health that include, but are not limited to: 1) Development and implementation of two childhood obesity Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Networks (CoIINs) in conjunction with the Association of State and Public Health Nutritionists (ASPHN); 2) Designed and managed MCAH's Nutrition & Physical Activity and CDPH's Breastfeeding & Healthy Living statewide websites including a Systems and Environmental Change Toolkit; 3) Utilization of California-specific data, to initiate, design, and guide development of numerous Nutrition & Physical Activity initiatives including the nationally recognized "Birth and Beyond, California," a hospital breastfeeding quality improvement technical assistance and training initiative. She has also led efforts to adapt the MyPlate model for nutrition education handouts specifically designed for perinatal women, adolescents, pregnant women with diabetes, children, and preconception in multiple languages and has recently completed the 2020 "Providing Breastfeeding Support: Model Hospital Policy Recommendations."

Suzanne has served as liaison for MCAH with the CDPH Director's obesity prevention efforts and to the CDPH Wellness Plan where she developed and implemented workplace wellness awards for California hospitals and local MCAH programs. Ms. Haydu is CDPH's designee to ASPHN, has served on the Board and is a Past-President of ASPHN. She was instrumental in starting ASPHN's Maternal Child Health Council, including being the first Chair.

These are just a few of Ms. Haydu's many accomplishments with Title V over the past five years. However, what is extraordinary is that despite her incredibly full schedule, she finds the time to coordinate with her local university partners to mentor young professionals in our nutrition leadership training programs by including them in the projects cited above to ensure the legacy of nutrition leadership and the positive impact on MCAH populations continues. Ms. Haydu is a model for MCAH professionals and Title V training programs.


Melissa Pflugh Prescott, PhD, RDN

Melissa Pflugh Prescott, PhD, RDN is currently Assistant Professor of School/Childhood Foods and Nutrition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She completed her PhD in Public Health at the New York University and a postdoctoral fellowship at Colorado State University. Her research focuses on the use of policy, systems, and environmental approaches to promote child health equity and environmental stewardship in school and community settings. Melissa was awarded a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Her past experiences also include managing a school-based obesity prevention program across seven elementary schools located in Harlem and Washington Heights, NYC and serving in the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics House of Delegates.

Participating in the MCH Nutrition Traineeship provided me the unique opportunity to learn about pressing practice issues directly from MCH dietitians and nutritionists, as well as how these practitioners were addressing these problems with evidence-based solutions. Furthermore, this opportunity allowed me to make connections with prominent MCH researchers and have access to cutting-edge professional development opportunities. The MCH Nutrition Traineeship experience was very impactful and allowed me not only grow as a researcher, but it also gave me great examples of how to mentor students and has shaped how I currently teach my Community Nutrition (FSHN 428) course.


Leslie Hope Wills MA, RD, CSP, IBCLC, CNSC

L. Hope Wills MA, RD, CSP, IBCLC, CNSC, joined the UCEDD clinical nutrition staff in 1996 and has worked together with the UCLA Partners in Excellence for Leadership in MCH Nutrition program for the past ten years providing clinical training experiences for the MPH/RD students as well as guest lectures.  During her tenure as a Staff Nutritionist she provided clinical services in community-based clinics for children with special health care needs.  In 2005 Ms. Wills accepted the position as program director for the Dietetic Internship program.  Under her direction, the program has expanded from four to six interns; adding two full time positions.  She has also accepted leadership roles as a program reviewer for the Accreditation Council on Nutrition and Dietetics (2010 – 2015) and as the current chair for the NCPRO committee for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (2019-2021).   Ms. Wills served as a part-time lecturer for USC in the school of preventative medicine (2007-2016) and the school of gerontology (2017-2019).  She has also delivered guest lectures on pediatric nutrition at UCLA, CSUN and Pepperdine University.  Ms. Wills has served on the Feeding Development Team since 2007.  In 2019, Ms. Wills co-authored an invited review on feeding issues in young children with two former team members.  In 2010  Ms. Wills joined the faculty of CA- LEND program at CHLA as the nutrition discipline supervisor and small group leader for Scenario Based Learning.  Ms. Wills has provided a number of presentations at the local, state and national level.  She served on the planning committee for Breastfeeding Summit hosted by Breastfeed LA, in 2018; and presented on the impact of infant mental health on breastfeeding.  She has also presented at Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE) for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (2016) and the American Occupational Therapy Association (2015).   Over the course of her career, Ms. Wills has witnessed the impact of prenatal nutrition, breastfeeding and the feeding relationship in the lives of children. Ms Wills has focused the next part of her career on the First 1000 days of life; working toward policies and practices that ensure that every child has the best start in life.


Dena Herman, PhD, MPH, RD

Professor, California State University, Northridge; PI/Director, Partners in Excellence for Leadership in MCH Nutrition

As a former nutrition trainee of the USC Children's Hospital Los Angeles Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities program, I was fortunate to be mentored by a number of leaders in the field of Maternal and Child Health (MCH), but I am particularly thankful to Marion Taylor Baer and Anne Bradford Harris for helping me understand the true "power" of nutrition and how integral it is for ensuring that children reach their potential, especially those with special health care needs.   I was also a trainee under the directorship of Dr. Baer at UCLA in the Partners in Excellence for Leadership in MCH Nutrition.  Dr. Baer, also an expert in nutrition policy and programs impressed upon me the importance of making an impact on populations through policy research.  I was fortunate enough to conduct my dissertation research on the impact of an economic intervention to include fruits and vegetables in the WIC food package.  The outcomes showed that providing these economic incentives resulted in WIC families purchasing and using these funds to buy a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.  I testified in front of Congress to this end and ultimately in 2009 a change to the WIC food package to include fruits and vegetables was made, which now affects more than six million women, infants and children a month. 

For the past four years, I have served as the Director of the UCLA Partners nutrition training program and can continue the legacy of my MCH nutrition mentors.  In addition to my role as training director, I have also provided technical assistance to the local Title V program for Los Angeles County Department of Public Health as a consultant and Advisory Board Member of their Reducing Obesity in Child Care Settings, Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Initiative.  I work closely with the State MCAH nutrition consultant to provide TA to a number of their efforts including initiatives to reduce infant mortality, increase food security, and prevent the rise of gestational diabetes. At the national level I have contributed to the efforts of the MCH Leadership Competencies Workgroup, the Pediatric Obesity Mini CoIIN lead by the Association of Public Health Nutritionists, and the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics, Competencies Review Committee.  I have also led a recent technical assistance effort funded through MCHB to advance rural MCH nutrition initiatives for childhood obesity through the application of policy, systems and environmental approaches.

In summary, I am very appreciative of the various training opportunities that I have been able to access through my career.  They have enabled me to make an impact on MCH populations at the local, state and national levels and I hope to be able to continue on this path.

Robin Stanton

Nutrition Consultant, Oregon Health Authority, Portland, OR

Robin Stanton has been a member/"trainee" of the Western Partners in Excellence for Leadership in MCH Nutrition, Nutrition Leadership Network (NLN) since its inception more than 20 years ago.  She completed her clinical training with the UCEDD (LEND program) at USC Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, Center for Child Development and Developmental Disabilities. Ms. Stanton is a recognized expert in Title V MCH and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) programs with a focus on building synergy across programs.  Some of her accomplishments in this area include development of a lactation accommodation policy for a Cross-Agency Health Improvement Plan across Oregon, partnering with TANF for the revision of their breastfeeding policy and outreach materials to support clients entering the JOBS program, and online breastfeeding training modules to train all TANF staff. 

She has monitored national and informed state surveillance systems including PRAMS, mPINC, BRFSS, and WIC data - on food and nutrition, breastfeeding, physical activity and screen time to take action on environmental change policies, programs and messaging.  Ms. Stanton has provided technical expertise and assistance on food security, breastfeeding and obesity prevention, to local public health and state agencies, early care and education, community planners, non-profit agencies and policymakers and served as an expert advisor to the World Breastfeeding Trends Institute and Oregon Department of Education Child Nutrition Programs among others.

Some of her recent leadership positions include Vice Chair of the National Advisory Council on Maternal, Infant and Fetal Nutrition to USDA, where she serves as the public health nutrition representative to study the operation of the WIC and CSFP programs and make recommendations to the US Congress and President.  She has also served as President of the Association of State Public Health Nutritionists (ASPHN), and Chair of their MCH Nutrition Council. 

Ms. Stanton's pre-professional and post-professional training, provided through MCHB have helped shape her focus as a collaborative leader, emphasizing connecting programs, people and ideas to build successful partnerships to facilitate team building to achieve public health goals.

Becky Johnson

As a nutrition trainee in the Partners in Excellence for Leadership in MCH Nutrition program at Oregon Health Sciences University, I learned about the impact of social determinants on population health and its importance for communities of color. As a Health Education Manager at the Cow Creek & Health and Wellness Center (CCH&WC), a Federally Qualified Health Center operated by the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians, I oversee programs related to diabetes, diabetes prevention, nutrition education, suicide prevention, trauma-informed care, maternal and child health, and tobacco prevention and cessation. As a registered dietitian nutritionist, I provide medical nutrition therapy to Tribal and community members of all ages at CCH and WC clinics in Canyonville and Roseburg, OR. I appreciate my experience as a trainee in this program because it has allowed me to see the value of not only serving individuals, but also serving individuals within community-based programs. I also learned about the importance of taking leadership in my field and serve as the State Policy Representative with the Oregon Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. I am a voting member of the Legislative and Public Policy Committee of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The MCH nutrition leadership training program has provided me with the fundamentals to make a difference in the communities that I work in and I am grateful for having had this experience.


Miranda Westfall

One of the most valuable lessons from my time as a nutrition trainee in the Partners in Excellence for Leadership in MCH Nutrition program at the University of California, Los Angeles is the importance of thinking and acting on a systems level to influence health. Over the past several years, the training program has focused on providing guidance to trainees and Title V partners across 13 western states in integrating Policy, Systems & Environmental (PSE) change strategies into work focused on improving maternal and child health. PSE approaches focus on influencing broader systems – like built environments, organizational practices, and policies – that play significant roles in shaping individual health behaviors. With technical assistance provided by the training program, state Title V partners have integrated PSE approaches into programmatic work as well as including as components of their state strategic plans.

As a doctoral student, I am applying this systems-thinking framework to my dissertation research, which focuses on understanding the relationship between infant feeding practices and early childhood obesity among children participating in the WIC program. I hope to use my research findings to influence policies and institutional practices that will make it easier for low-income mothers to breastfeed, and that make healthy foods more accessible to families during the period when complementary foods are introduced to infants. While educating mothers and families on the significant benefits of breastfeeding and the importance of introducing healthy foods at appropriate developmental stages is undoubtedly important, it is exceptionally difficult for families to implement these recommendations without supportive environments.

I am confident that beginning my career with a systems-thinking framework will make me a more impactful MCH researcher and leader, and for that I am immensely grateful to the training program leadership.

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