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The Wisconsin Department of Health Services announced this week it will receive a $45 million grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to advance state and local public health workforce development by strengthening recruitment, retention and training efforts over the next five years.
The money, the majority of which come from the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act, is part of continuing efforts to help the country recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for future health threats. The CDC is allocating a total of $3.2 billion nationwide.
“Wisconsin’s state, local, and tribal health departments are the backbone of the work being done all across our state to support healthy individuals, families, and communities,” said DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake in a statement. “We applaud the CDC for this investment into our state’s public health infrastructure. This is a win not only for our public health workforce, but for every community that will benefit from enhanced capacity to work collaboratively to build stronger, safer, and healthier communities.”
Planning for the funds is still in the works, however, the first year of the five-year funding will focus on conducting an assessment of Wisconsin’s public health system. The department plans to look specifically at statewide staffing levels, capacity, and workforce well-being.
DHS will use the assessment to help plan next steps towards its goals of shoring up education and recruiting pipelines, improving hiring practices to ensure the public health workforce is representative of Wisconsin’s diverse population and establishing additional training opportunities.
Approximately 40% of the workforce funding will go to local and tribal health departments as required by the grant. The department said it will also use the first year to focus on partnering with Wisconsin’s local and tribal health departments on these allocations.
A DHS representative said in an email that the allocations for local health departments have been previously planned with the input of the departments.
“Over the next five years, this investment will shape our work to build and support a stronger, resilient public health system,” said state health officer Paula Tran. “At the core of this system is our exceptional public health workforce. As we look to the future of public health needs in Wisconsin, we must invest in supporting and retaining our current workforce while recruiting and preparing the future workforce to ensure that all residents in Wisconsin have all the resources and opportunities they need to thrive.”
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