Local health departments are building power for health equity

After years of struggling to close health disparities, a new movement has taken root: local health departments are using a set of strategic practices to confront the power imbalances and forms of oppression at the root of health inequities, change the conversation about what creates health equity, develop leadership and support innovation, and build a movement for health equity.

We want to scale up this transformation

This website is structured around a set of strategic practices that health departments can apply to more meaningfully and comprehensively advance health equity. Over and over, more health departments are asking “What are the strategic steps we can take to advance health equity at our health department?” This resource showcases success stories from across the United States to answer this question.

Local health departments are championing transformational change by:
  • Building internal capacity and infrastructure and taking strategic risks to advance equity

  • Fostering strategic community partnerships to build power and engage in social justice movements

  • Working across government agencies to develop shared ownership for health equity

Get to know our case studies

Los Angeles County Diverts Justice-Involved Youth

Los Angeles County established a Division of Youth Diversion and Development to equitably reduce youth involvement in the criminal justice system. The program, which seeks to promote youth well-being and life opportunities by limiting early contact with the justice system, is housed in the Los Angeles County Health Agency’s Office of Diversion and Reentry.

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Los Angeles County Diverts Justice-Involved Youth
Rice County Conducts Equity Analysis and Develops a Health Equity Plan

Using a small grant, Rice County Public Health (RCPH), Minnesota, completed a health equity organizational assessment and determined the department needed to strengthen staff understanding and build its capacity to address health equity. To address this need, RCPH created a Health Equity Plan that includes seven practices to build department and community momentum to advance health equity.

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Rice County Conducts Equity Analysis and Develops a Health Equity Plan

What underlies our approach?

To systematically dismantle the patterns of othering and exclusion in government practice, we must pursue a wall-to-wall transformation of how local health departments work internally, with communities, and alongside other government agencies.

This inside/outside approach requires health departments to build internal capacity and a will to act on the social determinants of health and health equity. It also requires developing relationships with and mobilizing communities and government to advocate for action on health equity.

Check out our webinar series

To learn more about the Health Equity Guide and how health departments are advancing health equity, check out this 4-part webinar series with national experts and local health departments profiled in the Health Equity Guide. Each webinar focused on a set of strategic practices that health departments can take to pursue a wall-to-wall transformation of how they work internally, with communities, and alongside other government agencies. Organized by HIP, these webinars were co-sponsored with GARE, NCHE, and NACCHO. Learn more about the webinar series