A well-developed community-level improvement plan guides government agencies and other stakeholders in policymaking for health promotion. Community health improvement plans are often limited to a particular jurisdiction for effective service delivery. They are developed in line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) set standards and frameworks. This paper analyzes the Fairfax county community health improvement plan development process against the set frameworks. Northern Virginia is among the communities that are rapidly growing in urban cities of the United States. The community is comprised of the cities of Alexandria, Falls Church, Fairfax Manassas Park, Loudoun, Prince William, and the counties of Arlington.
Community health leaders use the CDC framework to assess health needs, as well as determine the resources and assets needed to promote the health sector. The framework outlines two steps: identifying the planning process and forming partnerships in developing a community health assessment plan. The Fairfax County health department applied only one step, forming partnerships during its development process (Fairfax, 2020). It convened partners and shareholders across the county, including government agencies, schools, faith-based communities, health providers, and community organizations.
In the program evaluation framework, a logical model is used to design and predict the expected outcomes. These expected outcomes are then used to identify focus areas. The logic model focuses on the resources to implement the health activities, key program deliverables, and the long-term impact of the community’s interventions. The Fairfax county process applied data collected during the assessment process and analyzed to make conclusions (Health, Durch, Bailey, & Stoto, 2020). During the community assessments, the partners collected data through interviews, surveys, focus groups, and crowdsourcing from over 50,000 youths and adults (2020). A roundtable discussion was held to analyze the data and key strengths and areas for improvement identified. The partners agreed to prioritize the provision of healthy food to the community from the round table discussions, creating a healthy environment, and behavioral health change.
Community health improvement plans have critical areas of focus that are developed based on different criteria. The program evaluation framework recommends four clusters, including utility, feasibility, propriety, and accuracy. The utility is an aspect that targets the community as recipients and end-users of health services, while feasibility focuses on the skills, effort, and money needed for the evaluation process. Accuracy involves getting the correct information while propriety is about the people involved (“Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships- NACCHO,” 2020). The Fairfax county partners’ development criteria were different from the clusters of the framework. The committee focused on impact, health equality, and feasibility. Impact evaluated how the plan would affect the community while equality focused on marginalized groups in the county.
The Centers for Disease Control considers the health improvement process as continuous and evolving rather than static. Health teams, therefore, rely on the data collected to draw program conclusions from the process. While the framework advocated for making conclusions at the end of program implementation, the Fairfax Community Health Plan evaluation was done three years after implementation. In addition, the framework ensured that stakeholders were adequately prepared at the beginning to address program outcomes and their impact on the local communities. On the contrary, the Fairfax county steering committee opted for a co-creation process with all the partners rather than making any program outcomes predictions.
Health, I., Durch, J., Bailey, L., & Stoto, M. (2020). A Community Health Improvement Process.
Retrieved 14 September 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK233012/
Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships (MAPP) – NACCHO. (2020).
Retrieved 14 September 2020, from https://www.naccho.org/programs/public-health-infrastructure/performance-improvement/community-health-assessment/mapp
Fairfax, L. (2020). Live Healthy Fairfax: Community Health Improvement Plan 2019-2023.
Retrieved 14 September 2020, from http://www.livehealthyfairfax.org/tiles/index/display?alias=chipfeedback