Workforce and Leadership Development
Maria Paz Carlos, PhD, DVM, MBA
Acting Project Officer
Acting Project Officer for the Title V Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Block Grant for the Region II States and Jurisdictions (Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands)
The purpose of this workshop is to share how investing in family engagement and workforce development has been critical to address two public health emergencies, as well as the Title V CSHCN priority needs in Puerto Rico.
Since 2016 the PR Title V CSHCN Program was mobilized among the first responders to the Zika virus epidemic and served as the lead program for services for families affected by the Zika virus. A system of care was urgently developed and implemented. Having the system set, emphasis was given to the workforce development. New staff initially recruited consisted of epidemiologists, service coordinators and nurse abstractors. A workforce development work plan was developed to train and qualify new staff. Maintaining the public health workforce is an MCH essential service since a strong skilled workforce achieves better outcomes. During the first year, staff participated in monthly workshops and talks. In the PR Title V CSHCN, we have valued this contribution. As part of this innovative system and workforce development Puerto Rico has been a leader in the creation and implementation of a follow-up system for infants born from a mother with evidence of Zika during pregnancy. This system includes families as part of the workforce. Fourteen (14) Family Engagement and Support Advocates (FESA) had been hired. All of them mothers of CYSHCN. This emergent health issue provided the opportunity to strengthen the program in different areas like never before.
PR Family engagement and support advocates (FESAs), 14 mothers of CSHCN or with laboratory evidence of possible Zika virus infection during their pregnancies were recruited and trained. These families have been working with us for almost a year, providing leadership at all levels. FESAs offer family to family support at the RCPs staff, service coordinators, assist in the review and implementation of family surveys, share their inputs to RCPs directors and administrators, and at the moment are working on the development of family support groups. FESAs took an active role as presenters on a workforce for family participation offered to CSHCNP health staff. Since 2009 we have hired one mother of a child with special needs as a Family Representative. This contribution and the 14 FESA’s have been vital to improving the services that we offer and that promote that they are based on the medical home model.
This panel brings HRSA and PR CSHCN Staff with family leaders to the same table to share their experiences as part of the workforce and the implementation of a model of system. It will present different angles of these initiatives. In an interactive conversation, they will share some of the barriers, challenges and success stories of having families as part of the workforce. How the program has changed and how this Public Health Emergencies left us with a much stronger, specialized, unique, innovative, yet more sensitive program and workforce. Lessons learned, challenges and best practices will be discussed. HRSA, PR Title V Staff and the FESS will share how the Zika epidemic and hurricane were turned into opportunities to create innovative and unique CSHCN model systems that is strengthened by including families as part of the workforce, as well as working directly with the families.