It’s a Wrap!


Our first-ever National Health and Human Services Summit has come to an end but here at APHSA, we see it as just another beginning...


Last week, we were joined by more than 350 members representing 32 states and the District of Columbia, 41 different counties, and numerous federal agencies bringing together all sectors of health and human services, including our private partners and thought leaders. Connections were made, awards were received and most important of all, our collective commitment to creating a healthier society and stronger communities for all children, adults, and families shined bright. We greatly appreciate every member who was in attendance and contributed to making the Summit a huge success.


With that being said, here are just a few of the key themes and takeaways that will continue to guide us down a path of transformation:


Human Services Value Curve. The Human Services Value Curve is a valuable frame that is giving stakeholders across programs, sectors, and systems a common language and navigation path for improving the health and well-being of families and communities. It is also providing a “real time” learning lab in states and local communities that is supporting a larger national conversation about what it takes to progress to a more integrative and generative state.


Looking through the HSVC lens, we see that when systems work through root causes and then identify remedies, oftentimes the solutions to implement are more streamlined and lower-touch. When they get stuck in the earlier Collaborative stage, sometimes the opposite can be true - and we wind up adding benefits and services to what is actually needed.


Investing in Outcomes. As a sector, we are learning how to shift from “understanding what it costs to run a program” to “requiring that we invest for value and outcomes.” This is a paradigm shift because the underlying systems weren’t actually designed for achieving value. As one Summit attendee noted, “we couldn’t have designed a system to keep people in poverty any better if we tried.” A focus on the social determinants of health is helping us create a more systemic approach and to begin asking the kind of outcome-oriented questions that will make that paradigm shift a reality. This is a “big lift” – but the stars have never been more aligned to make it happen.


Framing. There is an increased understanding in our field that how we tell the story of what we do matters. Framing is not a simple sound bite or message campaign. At its core, it is an understanding that we all have experiences that shape our daily thinking and the way in which we hear what people are telling us. If we better understand the deep-seeded belief in rugged individualism that is embedded in American society, we can avoid the swamp that routinely drowns the message of the health and human services field. Proper framing can make the difference between effective and failed communications and although framing is not always easy, research from FrameWorks Institute gives us many tools to help along the way.


Our Work Environment. We must take care of our workforce and recognize the chronic stress and secondary trauma that so many of our dedicated team members experience and be aware of what we can do to support a thriving work environment. Creating a healthy teaming environment does not require significant new dollars or financial incentives. Brain science is helping us understand more about what stress does to our workforce, who is attracted to the work in the first place, and how we support more positive work interactions. At its core, it is about feeling valued and respected for individual and team contributions, and having new learning opportunities.


In this pivotal year marked by a presidential election, we can take our shared learnings and be champions for our field and those we serve. It’s time to weave human services together like we’ve never done before. We challenge you to continue to move forward and INSPIRE, INNOVATE, and IMPACT. We’ll see you at next year’s Summit!


Were you at the Summit? Share your key takeaways with us on Twitter @APHSA1 #APHSASummit16