Senior Policy Advisor, Dept. Public Health
Massachusetts has received a new five year federal award to develop regional public health districts through an incentive grant program, which will be operated by the state Department of Public Health (MDPH). Groups of cities and towns are eligible to apply for planning grants of up to $40,000 to develop plans to share staff and services to improve the scope and quality of local public health services for their combined populations. Planning grant proposals will be due to MDPH at the end of February, and awards will be announced in March. MDPH expects to fund 8-10 planning grants.
The program is eligible for groups of municipalities interested in starting new districts and for existing districts that want to expand. Planning grant applications may be submitted by lead municipalities or by Regional Planning Agencies or Councils of Governments acting as fiscal agents for groups of municipalities applying together. It is not necessary for all municipalities applying for a planning grant to be fully committed to participating in the prospective public health district. Planning grants are intended to help engage appropriate stakeholders, secure commitments, and develop plans for how each district would operate.
Municipal groups selected in March to receive planning grants will be eligible to compete later in 2011 for multi-year operating grants. MDPH expects to provide extended support to enable 6 of the originally chosen 8-10 groups of municipalities to form districts beginning late in 2011. Each of these 6 districts will receive five years of flexible operating support-three years at full funding, followed by two years of reduced funding, leading to district self-sufficiency. Full funding per district will range from $75,000 to $150,000 annually. Additional technical assistance will be available to each of the 6 funded districts. Details about planning grant activities and performance standards that districts will be expected to meet will be included in the Request for Responses that MDPH will post to Comm-Pass before December 31, 2010. An updated note will also appear in City and Town when that post is ready; however we suggest you start local conversations immediately.
The program is intended to address gaps in the capacities of Boards of Health and health departments to protect and promote public health through food protection, sanitary code enforcement, disease prevention and response, and policies and programs aimed at smoking, obesity, health disparities, underage drinking, and other health threats. The program is funded under the 2010 national health care reform law as part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) "Strengthening Public Health Infrastructure to Improve Health Outcomes" initiative. For more information, contact Geoff Wilkinson, Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of the Commissioner at MDPH, at firstname.lastname@example.org.