The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) proposes a comprehensive project across all three strategies of OE22-2203 Component A that will collaboratively and equitably carry out and coordinate strategies across the full range of Foundational Public Health Services and across all Ten Essential Services to serve millions of Missourians.
Missouri’s public health system funding is consistently among the lowest in the country and has been for decades. In 2021, Missouri had the lowest state public health funding in the U.S. at $7 per person, and additionally, the funding is fragmented – associated with specific services or programs – and varies by county.
The purpose of the proposed project is to improve and modernize Missouri’s public health infrastructure to better meet the health needs of citizens, by increasing and bolstering the public health workforce, strengthening foundational capabilities such as systems and policies, and modernizing data systems. DHSS has designed activities and partnerships that are guided by three principles: modernizing data and evidence; increasing diversity and addressing health inequities; and strengthening partnerships between DHSS, local public health agencies, and other partners.
Strategy A1: Workforce, encompasses activities to increase hiring of diverse staff and increase the size and capabilities of the public health workforce with improved wages and protections. Strategy A2: Foundational Capabilities, focuses on improved organizational systems & processes and stronger public health (PH) foundational capabilities including an emphasis on increasing local public health agency (LPHA) accreditation throughout the state. Strategy A3: Data Modernization, will allow more modern and efficient data infrastructure, better data interoperability, and increasing availability and use of PH data.
DHSS has a long, successful history of managing funds from federal agencies, particularly the CDC. Past and currently funded projects have demonstrated the capacity to successfully plan, implement and evaluate the types of activities proposed in this application by working with partners internal and external to DHSS, including the 114 LPHAs spanning Missouri who operate independently of each other and work collaboratively with DHSS through core funding and contracts to deliver public health services to the communities they serve.
Leadership over this grant award will be provided by a trio of public health professionals who have been instrumental in Missouri’s public health infrastructure and efforts for a combined 50 years, including DHSS Acting Director Paula Nickelson, who is a member of the Missouri Governor’s Cabinet. The other members of the core leadership trio are Dr. Laura Naught, DHSS Deputy Department Director, and Lori Brenneke, Division Director, Division of Community and Public Health.
Additionally, DHSS has established and trusted partnerships with professional organizations, state government agencies, academic institutions, and community-based organizations that will be critical to the successful implementation of strategies.
The DHSS will employ an embedded evaluator model where evaluation experts participate fully in program design and facilitate decision-making to address barriers and project risk. This participatory approach further ensures data-driven, equity-centered, and collaborative decisions guide each Strategy throughout project implementation.