Current Work and Initiatives

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Learn more about the current work and initiatives for the following health focus areas:



Key partnerships to address and prevent diabetes reside with the Washington State Diabetes Network and its Leadership Team. Founded in 2004, this group of dedicated organizations from, public, private, community, tribal and academic/training sectors provides leadership to support the state’s overall priorities.

Programs within the Department of Health (DOH) partner closely on diabetes management and prevention, in particular the Community Health Worker Training Program and related programs in the Office of Healthy Communities.  DOH works closely with the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), Health Care Authority (HCA), and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) around diabetes management and prevention.

In 2013, the Washington State Legislature mandated that DSHS, HCA and DOH collaborate on a joint report on diabetes and its impacts, which led to production of the 2014 Diabetes Epidemic and Action Report. The second iteration of this report is due to the legislature in June 2017, and collaboration continues on a regular basis among the three agencies, with input from the Diabetes Network and other stakeholders.



State agency partners work to include nutrition and physical activity in their policies, systems and environments; and to collaborate on projects that positively affect multiple outcomes such as active transportation, built environment and healthy food system. For example:

  1. Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition convenes partners to prioritize issues that our state is facing.Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition convenes partners to prioritize issues that our state is facing.
  2. American Indian Health Commission supports the Pulling Together for Wellness Framework.American Indian Health Commission supports the Pulling Together for Wellness Framework.
  3. University of Washington creates childcare learning modules to support healthy eating and active living in early learning.University of Washington creates childcare learning modules to support healthy eating and active living in early learning.

Center for Multicultural Health is working with the African American community to establish culturally-created healthy eating guidelines.

Governor Jay Inslee launched the Healthiest Next Generation Initiative in 2014 to help children maintain a healthy weight and enjoy active lives. The Governor's Healthiest Next Generation initiative is an innovative public-private partnership that aims to create a multidisciplinary strategic work group focused on health, early learning and K-12 environments.

The Healthy Eating Active Living Program (HEAL) at the Department of Health strives to reduce the burden of obesity and chronic disease, and increase the proportion of Washingtonians with a healthy weight. Focusing on equitable and sustainable solutions, HEAL builds a healthier Washington through policy, systems and environmental changes that make it easier for people to eat healthy and be active -- wherever they are.

Breastfeeding Friendly Washington (BFWA) is a new initiative encouraging hospitals to promote and support breastfeeding through changes in their policies and procedures. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recognizes that breastfed babies are at less risk for infections, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), chronic conditions and unhealthy weight. DOH will soon be launching the Breastfeeding Friendly Washington Clinics arm of the initiative.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education (SNAP-Ed) program, an obesity prevention grant, serves low income populations in Washington. SNAP-Ed includes direct education along with policy, systems and environmental changes focused on nutrition and physical activity.

The Health Outcomes Project, a pilot project of SNAP-Ed, works in collaboration with medical providers; prenatal and postpartum women; and community leaders to support healthy weight among women. This project includes a medical provider intervention, participant wellness classes, and community changes that support active living and healthy eating.

Short-term goals of the program include normalizing healthy weight conversations with medical providers and improving healthy lifestyle behaviors among women. Long-term goals include reduction of gestational diabetes, maternal and child obesity, and reduction of chronic disease.

The Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentives Program has a Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program strategy where patients/clients identified as SNAP eligible receive Fruit and Vegetables “Prescriptions.” These are coupons that can be redeemed at local Safeway stores, and in some cases, local food banks.



The Washington State Tobacco Prevention and Control Strategic plan focuses on four main goal areas, each with strategies and tactics.

  1. Reduce tobacco related disparities among priority populations.
  2. Prevent youth and young adults from beginning to use tobacco.
  3. Leverage resources for promoting and supporting tobacco cessation.
  4. Eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke.

The goal that relates most to short-term health care is promoting and supporting tobacco cessation.

With the advent of the federal Affordable Care Act, prevention services for smoking cessation are to be covered with no out of pocket costs, but few health plans in Washington are following federal guidelines. Large populations and rural portions of the state have no reliable access to cessation services.

Encouraging and helping tobacco users quit is one of the quickest approaches to reducing tobacco-related disease, death and health care costs. Public health supports the efforts of the healthcare sector to consistently diagnose and treat tobacco use and dependence.

The Affordable Care Act recommends insurance cover individual, group and telephone-based interventions and all 7 FDA approved medications to quit. Access to free or nominal cost cessation counseling and medications is an important part of efforts to pass tobacco prevention and smoke-free policies such as raising the minimum legal sales age, smoke free multiunit housing, colleges, behavioral health and workplace campuses. Cessation efforts also reduce youth initiation as children not exposed to tobacco are less likely to use tobacco/nicotine.


Well-Child Visits

Department of Health, in partnership with Health Care Authority coordinates a collaborative performance improvement project among Apple Health Managed Care Organizations (MCOs).  The current project is focused on improving well child visit rates for children 0-20 who are on Medicaid. The goal is to increase statewide rates by 5% in 2017.  Activities fall into three categories: person/family engagement and MCO reporting/coordination. 

The Pediatric-Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative (P-TCPI) is one of 29 CMS-funded Practice Transformation Networks across the nation and one of only two focused on improving the health system for children.  Washington Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Department of Health, and Molina Healthcare mobilize multiple sectors with a shared mission.  Regional teams, whose members live in the community, work together to co-create a transformed health system for their region. Measures include improved immunization and well-child visit rates, improved asthma management, and decreased emergency room visits.

Maternal Child Health Block Grant (MCHBG) funding supports work in each of the state’s Local Health Jurisdictions.  All are required to implement strategies directed toward Children with Special Health Care Needs, and to promote Universal Developmental Screening and/or trauma informed approach for Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).  In some counties, this includes strategies to improve the rate of well child visits, particularly as they relate to medical homes.


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