3176.0: Monday, November 13, 2000 - Board 10

Abstract #15349

State government as a linking agent: Diffusing federal policy to the local level

Melinda M Pankratz, MPH1, Denise Hallfors, PhD, RN2, and Allan Steckler, DrPH1. (1) Health Behavior and Health Education, University of North Carolina, CB# 7400, 302 Rosenau Hall, School of Public Health, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7400, 919/806-3293, melindap@email.unc.edu, (2) Maternal and Child Health, University of North Carolina, CB# 7400, 401 Rosenau Hall, School of Public Health, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7400

Introduction: Linking agents play an essential role in implementing public health programs. They facilitate implementation by "providing training, troubleshooting problems that arise, and answering questions" (Oldenburg, et. al. 1997). In this context, state governmental agencies often serve as linking agents, helping to diffuse federal programs to the local level. This presentation's purpose is to describe how state education departments facilitated implementation of "the principles of effectiveness", a Safe and Drug Free Schools (SDFS) policy.

Methods: SDFS coordinators in 176 school districts in 11 states completed a written questionnaire (82% of sample). Coordinators were asked if they had received information about the policy, what assistance the state provided for policy implementation, and to what extent their district had made plans for policy implementation.

Results: Overall, 71% of districts had received information about the policy. Small, rural districts with less than quarter-time coordinators were over represented in the group not receiving information about the policy. Districts receiving information about the policy reported that the state encouraged them to adopt the policy (87%). The state helped these districts by providing: lists of recommended/approved curricula (64.6%); detailed information on policy implementation (59%); and technical assistance with needs assessment (48%) and evaluation (47%). Greater state assistance was associated with more advanced plans for policy implementation.

Conclusions: State efforts have helped facilitate implementation of this policy; however, many districts do not recall receiving assistance essential for policy implementation. A different type of outreach may be necessary for these districts. Recommendations for facilitating policy implementation are provided.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of this session, the participants in this session will be able to: (1) identify characteristics of agencies that are less likely to be reached through traditional channels; and (2) identify at least three ways linking agents can facilitate program implementation

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: None
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

The 128th Annual Meeting of APHA