For Immediate Release
For more information, please contact APHA Communications at (202) 777-2509 or mediarelations@apha.org .

American Public Health Association announces winners of policy innovation awards

Washington, D.C., March 15, 2012 — The American Public Health Association today announced its selection of six health departments to receive funding to advance an innovative policy approach in response to a critical public health problem in their community. The winners are: Cambridge Public Health Department, Kane County Health Department, Manatee County Health Department, Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Public Health -- Seattle and King County and the San Carlos Apache Tribe Department of Health and Human Services.

The award program was intended to strengthen health department’s capacity to reduce health inequities through policy and improve their ability to engage community partners in the policy process. With support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Public Health Improvement Initiative, each health department will receive between $25,000 and $40,000 and no-cost technical assistance from APHA for a period of 10 months.

The selected health departments will be required to develop, implement and/or evaluate the innovative public health policy strategy they submitted for the award. APHA will work closely with the health departments to identify emerging and promising practices that can be replicated in other communities. APHA plans to highlight the work of awardees by sharing information about their activities through various communication channels, and by developing resources, such as case studies, for health departments interested in adopting similar approaches.

“Policy initiatives are some of the most cost-effective tools for improving population health, and we are pleased to be able to support these six health departments’ efforts to develop and test new policy approaches to our nation’s most pressing public health challenges,” said Caroline Fichtenberg, director of APHA’s Center for Public Health Policy. “Health departments have sustained substantial cuts in funding over the past several years as a result of the recession, and we hope that these awards can help move forward initiatives that would otherwise languish or not occur at all.”

The six health departments that were selected, among a pool of 121 applicants, are listed below with a brief description of their project. A more detailed description can be found here.

Cambridge Public Health Department, Cambridge, Mass.
Develop a workplace domestic violence policy at the health department and create a step-by-step Employee Domestic Violence Policy Implementation Guide with companion DVD to help other workplaces develop policies.

Kane County Health Department, Aurora, Ill.
Educate policymakers, planning and development staff, and members of the public regarding the Kane County 2040 Master Plan; and provide resources and technical assistance to municipalities and other public and civic organizations to adopt and begin implementation of one or more of the plan’s high priority health, land use and transportation policy recommendations.

Manatee County Health Department, Bradenton, Fla.
Develop and adopt a Complete Streets policy to reduce pedestrian and bicycling injuries and increase opportunities for biking and walking.

Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Baltimore, Md.    
Evaluate the Public Health Dental Hygiene Act, a 2008 state law that expanded the role of dental hygienists in providing basic dental care with the goal of providing an effective way to get treatment to kids who are underserved by reducing health care disparities for low-income Maryland populations.  

Public Health – Seattle and King County, Seattle, Wash.
Create a policy environment to expand the use of community health workers who can address and prevent diseases, including finding ways to fund their work, support their training, and cover relevant services as essential benefits.

San Carlos Apache Tribe Department of Health and Human Services, San Carlos, Ariz.
Develop a tribal public health code that addresses the implementation and enforcement of public health responsibilities and authorities related to infectious diseases.

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Founded in 1872, the APHA is the oldest and most diverse organization of public health professionals in the world. The association aims to protect all Americans and their communities from preventable, serious health threats and strives to assure community-based health promotion and disease prevention activities and preventive health services are universally accessible in the United States. APHA represents a broad array of health providers, educators, environmentalists, policy-makers and health officials at all levels working both within and outside governmental organizations and educational institutions. More information is available at www.apha.org.