The National Stakeholders Meetings Verion 2.0
By Lissa Pressfield, MHS
Since the creation of the National Stakeholders Collaborative (NSC) in 2003 - a partnership between the Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs, the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Director, the National Coalition of STD Directors, and the Society of State Directors of Health, Physical Education and Recreation - the group has convened 33 states in National Stakeholders Meetings (NSM) designed to develop state-level, inter-agency partnerships to improve adolescent reproductive and sexual health. Through a competitive application process, state teams are selected to participate in the NSM process, which includes a kick-off meeting and 12 months of technical assistance from the national partners, which are aimed at helping state teams prepare and implement inter-agency strategic plans, develop joint initiatives, streamline and enhance existing programs and policies, and create resources. Each state team consists of departments of health and education officials in maternal and child health, HIV/AIDS, STDs, school health programs, and other key stakeholders. Participating states have had a variety of successes, for example: SOUTH CAROLINA'S NSM TEAM collaborated, through the State Alliance for Adolescent Sexual Health (SAASH), to recommend revisions to certain health education standards for grades K-12, which were adopted by the State Board of Education; WASHINGTON STATE'S NSM TEAM contributed to enactment of the Healthy Youth Act, mandating that school-based sex education be medically accurate and follow K-12 Guidelines for Sexual Health Information and Disease Prevention, developed by the team; CALIFORNIA'S NSM TEAM created the Adolescent Sexual Health Work Group (ASHWG), a coalition of governmental and nongovernmental organizations that developed core competencies for adolescent sexual and reproductive health professionals and produced integrated data reports that identify relevant trends, disparities and needs; and CONNECTICUT'S NSM TEAM helped develop the Tell Me What You See program that integrates art work and poetry created by incarcerated youth into high school health education curricula on STDs, hepatitis and HIV prevention.
In 2009, the NSC launched a new version of the process, the NSM 2.0, to respond to a growing need to reach out to past participants and re-energize their collaborative efforts. To accommodate for many current state travel restrictions, the meeting format was adapted so that the NSC partners would travel to the states. North Dakota and Texas are the states that were selected for participation in 2009/2010. The NSC hosted meetings with these teams in April 2010, and worked with them to create a comprehensive action plan to serve as a road map for their collaborative efforts and build a cohesive and committed team. Both teams are dedicated to improving adolescent sexual health in their states and have identified strategies to address key disparities, pool resources, promote evidence-based approaches and leverage the expertise and experience of the various divisions, departments, and stakeholders involved. During this time of increased national focus and funding for teen pregnancy prevention, the NSM 2.0 process provided an opportunity to connect with new partners and talk about strategies that broadly address adolescent sexual health and youth development.