happy children, mother and child, and expecting mother and father

MCH Leadership Competencies

Competency 1: MCH Knowledge Base/Context


Maternal and child health (MCH) is a specialty area within the larger field of public health, distinguished by:

  • Promotion of the health and wellbeing of all women, children, adolescents/young adults, and families, especially in geographically isolated and economically or medically vulnerable populations. Particular attention is directed to the MCH population domains: maternal/ women's health, adolescent/young adult health, perinatal/infant health, children with special health care needs, child health, and crosscutting/ life course.
  • A focus on individuals as well as the families, communities, populations, and systems of care in communities that support these individuals.
  • A life course perspective as an organizing framework that acknowledges distinct periods in human development and presents both risks and opportunities for interventions to make lasting improvements.


MCH leaders will demonstrate a working knowledge of:

  • MCH populations and the history and current structure of the key MCH programs serving these populations, including state Title V programs.
  • The core values and strategic objectives with a special focus on:
    • Prevention
    • Individuals and populations
    • Life course, including key transitions and intergenerational influences on health
    • Cultural competence
    • Family-professional partnerships
    • Organizational/interagency partnerships
    • Community-based systems of services
    • Health equity and elimination of health disparities
    • Evidence-based practice
  • The services available through major MCH programs and their limitations and gaps.
  • Key policies that affect MCH populations.
  • The underlying principles of public health, population data collection, and analysis as well as the strengths, limitations, and utility of such data.
  • The role of federal, state, and local government in ensuring equitable healthcare for women, children, youth, families, and children and youth with special health care needs (CYSHCN).
  • The synergistic relationship between programs focusing on particular populations or communities and those focusing on individual health service delivery.


Foundational. At a foundational level, MCH leaders will:

  1. Describe MCH populations and provide examples of MCH programs, including Title V programs.
  2. Describe the utility of a systems approach in understanding the interaction of individuals, groups, organizations, and communities in health outcomes.
  3. Use data to identify issues related to the health status of a particular MCH population group and use these to develop or evaluate policy.
  4. Describe health disparities within MCH populations and offer strategies to address them.
  5. Evaluate critically evidence-based programs and policies for translation of research to practice.
  6. Understand the value of partnering with family- and community-led organizations to identify ways to engage families and community members in efforts to improve programs, policies, and practices.
  7. Advanced. Building on the foundational skills, MCH leaders will:
  8. Demonstrate the use of a systems approach to examine the interactions among individuals, groups, organizations, and communities.
  9. Assess the effectiveness of an existing program for specific MCH population groups.

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