Illinois Public Health Association
Commission AmeriCorps State FY 2011
Today, public health is at the forefront of the vital issues facing Illinois and the nation, such as HIV/AIDS, maternal/child health, youth development, disaster response, and homeland security threats. Local health departments are relied upon as the core service provider to ensure that communities' health needs are met. For that reason, volunteers and other service members are invaluable to effective community-based health and prevention program efforts. Through its role in the public health field and its existing relationships with local agencies, the Illinois Public Health Association (IPHA) has taken the lead in incorporating volunteers and service members into public health to address these concerns. These individuals help IPHA achieve its mission of improving the health of Illinois residents through leadership in and advancement of the practice of public health. The goals of the program are to: support local public health activities; promote community awareness of public health issues; engage volunteers; and, develop a strong public health workforce through training and experiential learning. IPHA proposes to provide leadership and administration for 28 fulltime AmeriCorps members placed in local health departments and community health agencies statewide, with a targeted focus on rural communities and Hispanic populations. Individuals will be recruited by IPHA, in consultation with host sites, through publicity efforts at colleges, disability agencies, newspapers, websites, and career fairs. Selected members may include college students and graduates and retired Baby Boomers. IPHA will provide a fulltime program director who will be responsible for overall program direction, monitoring member activities, reporting requirements, and, providing training and development of members. Host sites will contribute match funding for each member placed at their organization. This is an excellent way for agencies to strengthen their service team and offer a training employment opportunity for their community. AmeriCorps members will help meet locally identified needs through community service in three focus areas: health promotion and outreach; outreach activities for local programs serving women, children, families, and the Hispanic population; and, volunteer coordination and assistance with emergency preparedness plans. AmeriCorps members' service will increase public health education, especially for youth and members of the Hispanic population; enhance outreach efforts to pregnant women, children and families; and increase the number of volunteers and professionals participating in community response teams. Members will increase their knowledge and skills in public health and prevention programs, and gain a greater sense of citizenship and connection to the community. Moreover, the statewide link that IPHA provides between public health agencies, communities and volunteer programs will be invaluable. Outcomes will be measured through monthly reports submitted by members and analyzed by program staff. Process and program evaluation measures include pre/post test surveys, data on the number of individuals served and volunteers recruited, service and training hours, retention patterns, member and host site satisfaction, and, other identified indicators. IPHA is committed to enhancing the collaboration of volunteerism and public health in order to develop a stronger infrastructure, support capacity building efforts and maximize the outreach potential of programs in the domains of personal health, community health approaches, prevention programming, and emergency response teams. The AmeriCorps program will provide the public health system in Illinois a vital link to skilled, motivated individuals to serve in communities of need, and potentially, serve as the catalyst for a broader integration of volunteerism and service members with public health and prevention programs.