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Use this phase to assess capacity to achieve community health goals. A public health capacity assessment is a set of questions or a process to measure the ability of an agency, partners and/or systems to deliver or ensure public health and environmental health services, programs and activities, or to address local priority issues.
Make note that you will use the results of your capacity assessment from Phase 4 throughout the prioritization process in Phase 5. It is important to consider how Phase 4 and 5 are related and how one influences the other before choosing and designing a capacity assessment.
The Colorado Public Health Act requires every local health plan to "assess capacity and performance of the county or district public health system" (Section 25-1-205 Subpart 2b). The act doesn't require a specific process, content or reporting format. Therefore, each community will decide the best method for collecting, sharing and using this information based on local needs.
Begin the phase by determining the area of capacity to assess and to what extent you will determine capacity. Choose the area that will best support the overall assessment and planning process. This will look differently for each agency and depend on various factors, including:
As local public health agencies move toward addressing root causes of health inequities in their communities, having an understanding of any aspect of capacity in conjunction with the community health assessment and prioritization process can greatly influence the building of the public health improvement plans and successful implementation.
Below are three examples of capacity areas to consider. You'll be required to do the first one to gather enough information to prioritize issue areas coming out of your CHA, however, you can choose to assess additional areas to better understand both internal and external capacity to deliver foundational public health services to serve your communities. If additional capacity issues arise, know they can also be considered in the Phase 5 prioritization process.
Capacity to address prioritized public health issues.
This type of assessment examines the ability of your agency and partner(s) to address public health issues in your community(ies), county or region.
Assess as part of the community health assessment (Phase 3), as a parallel phase, or as part of the prioritization process (Phase 5)
Provides rich information about the ability, potential capacity and feasibility of the agency and local partners to come together to address priority issues.
Stakeholders will need to have an understanding of your capacity assessment findings to make informed decisions during this process. This information is necessary for completing Phase 5.
Assess as part of the community health assessment (Phase 3) or as a parallel phase, or an ongoing agency process.
Results will determine an agency's capacity to deliver core public health services and meet the requirements of the Colorado Public Health Act.
Colorado Core Public Health Services and Capabilities provide a clear guide for delivery of quality public health services. It will be important for agencies to know how their agency aligns in order to address any gaps that may present barriers to overall delivery of quality services.
Health equity and social determinants of health is a foundational capability. This assessment area also provides an opportunity to understand an agency's capacity to address root causes of health inequities, educate staff and to address social issues that influence and determine health.
Assess as part of the community health assessment (Phase 3), as a parallel phase, or an ongoing agency process.
Performance management and quality improvement are ways to understand how an agency or system is functioning, which is a useful input to the development of an agency strategic plan.
Based on the scope of assessing capacity, here are some recommended resources to review for your process:
Collect new data if your agency and partner(s) need to know more. Use a method or approach deemed most important to the community health assessment and planning process. Aim to gain a wide variety of perspectives of the agency/system's ability to address priority issues and/or provide public health services. Reference Phase 2 when considering the best way to engage stakeholders in collecting data.
Consider these data collection techniques:
See CHAPS Qualitative data collection techniques for more guidance.
Once data collection is complete, analyze and interpret the story it tells. Highlight areas of strength and strategic opportunities for moving toward increased capacity in whichever capacity area(s) you have chosen. These strategic capacity-building opportunities and assets may ultimately become key goals or strategies in your public health improvement plan over the next five years or agency's next strategic plan.
Now that you've analyzed capacity data, it's time to summarize and share the information based on how the results will be used. Here are a few examples of how the results can be used.