State Action for Public Health Excellence (SAPHE) Program

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), Office of Local and Regional Health (OLRH), launched the Massachusetts Municipal Public Health Shared Services grant program in January 2020 with funding from the FY2020 state budget.

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Created in response to a Special Commission of Local and Regional Public Health (SCLRPH) recommendation, the program was renamed the State Action for Public Health Excellence (SAPHE) grant program after the passage of the SAPHE Act in April 2020.  The program enables ten groups of cities and towns to plan for or to expand sharing of staff and resources to improve local public health effectiveness and efficiency. In its Blueprint for Public Health Excellence report, the SCLRPH recommended that the Commonwealth “increase cross-jurisdictional sharing of public health services to strengthen the service delivery capacities of local public health departments”.  The SAPHE Grant Program strengthens local public health services and protections to residents in 79 cities and towns through cross-jurisdictional sharing.


Two existing public health districts received funding starting in FY20 to support expansion or enhancement of their shared services arrangements that provide public health services and protections to nearly forty municipalities in Western Massachusetts:

  • Cooperative Public Health Service (Franklin Regional Council of Governments) to address distressed and abandoned housing and to provide training for members of local boards of health among its 14 participating municipalities.
  • Berkshire Public Health Alliance (Berkshire Regional Planning Council) to develop a more efficient system of online permitting and inspection scheduling among its 24 participating municipalities.

Four groups starting in FY20 representing 21 municipalities received awards for planning new shared services arrangements:

  • Framingham Health Department for shared public health nursing services with Ashland, Hudson, and Holliston (in partnership with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council).
  • Peabody Department of Health and Human Services and nine other municipalities; Beverly, Danvers, Gloucester, Hamilton, Marblehead, Nahant, Newburyport, Swampscott and Salem for the North Shore Mother Home Visiting Program (in partnership with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council).
  • East Longmeadow-Longmeadow Health Departments for shared public health services.
  • Newburyport Health Department with Amesbury, Salisbury, Newbury, and West Newbury for regional animal control services.

Four groups representing 20 municipalities will be funded in FY21:

  • North Suffolk Public Health Collaborative (Revere, lead municipality, with Chelsea and Winthrop) is focusing on air quality.
  • Norfolk County – 8 Local Public Health Coalition (Norwood, lead municipality, with Canton, Dedham, Milton, Needham, Wellesley, Walpole,​ and Westwood is assessing and addressing capacity, especially with in the context of the Foundational Public Health Services.
  • Martha’s Vineyard Public Health Environmental District (Oak Bluffs, Chilmark, Tisbury, West Tisbury, Aquinnah, and Edgartown) through a joint arbovirus project assessing how to sustain shared services.
  • Mansfield, Foxborough, and Norton joint planning for shared hazardous waste management initiative.

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