Community Voices for Health is focused on strengthening civic infrastructure to create more pathways for the public’s voice in health policy.
Problems and Purpose
The idea of “community voices” in health policy comes from the insight that community voices have not always been included in shaping health policy, particularly the voices of youth, people of color, and lower-income people, among others. As part of an effort to address this problem, Community Voices for Health (CVH) is focused on strengthening civic infrastructure to create more pathways for the public’s voice in health policy, particularly among underrepresented populations. The project is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and is co-led by Public Agenda, Altarum, and grantees in six states.
Background History and Context
The CVH project began with a pilot in 2019 in Pennsylvania. In that pilot, Public Agenda conducted an initial "engagement scan," which is a landscape analysis of what engagement looks like at the local level, including assets, challenges, networks, and model engagement initiatives. The engagement scan is an approach that allows Public Agenda to build on existing engagement infrastructure, rather than starting from scratch.
After the pilot, the official Community Voices for Health initiative launched with a process to identify civic engagement projects aimed at strengthening health policy in 6 states - Nevada, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Colorado, and New Mexico.
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
Robert Wood Johnson funded this initiative with Public Agenda, Altarum, and six state grantees, each of whom were awarded about $600,000 USD.
Participant Recruitment and Selection
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Altarum, and Public Agenda worked together to score grant proposals from states across the country and select the 6 final Community Voices for Health grantees. Starting in April 2020, each state created its own advisory council and steering committee for their respective projects.
Methods and Tools Used
Public Agenda and Altarum provided state grantees with supports including public engagement technical assistance (coaching) on engagement design; workshops on equity, outreach, and sustainability; and customized supports for each state project that included trainings about Photovoice, facilitator training, and survey panels.
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
Each state had a unique public engagement project aimed at improving health outcomes:
- Georgia worked with community health workers to ensure their voice and advocacy was represented in health policy outcomes.
- Pennsylvania worked to create a survey panel to hear the voices of rural communities, people of color, and non-native English speakers.
- Colorado created a survey panel to hear the voices of African American populations.
- New Mexico worked with tribal health councils who, in turn, worked with their constituents at the local level.
- Nevada collaborated with LGBTQ+ and youth experiencing homelessness to create a network to bring issues youth are facing to the state legislature. The network included youth who are uninsured, youth experiencing homelessness, and youth facing mental health challenges.
- Indiana worked to create a county wide engagement model of public participation in health that affects both practice and law, through processes of sustained dialogic engagement
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
The project does not conclude until the summer of 2022, but initial outcomes include:
- Increased presence of youth networks in Nevada legislation
- Tribal councils undergoing equity trainings
- Community health workers participating in advocacy and engagement workshops