In this week's edition of Technically, Andrea Wessel and Laurie Dils with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) in Olympia, Washington detail how technical assistance from NCSD was used to support the completion of the Washington Youth Sexual Health Plan.
In about 2010, a number of key stakeholders in our state drafted a Washington Youth Sexual Health Plan (WYSH) in order to inform program and policy decisions related to adolescent sexual health. The Washington Department of Health (DOH) and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) were the two state agencies spearheading this effort. Funding and staffing changes resulted in the draft WYSH plan being put on hold. When OSPI received funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that included a focus on improving access for youth to sexual health services, we realized the time was right to revisit, update and finalize the WYSH Plan.
As one of the CDC’s national partners, NCSD was able to offer technical assistance to support the completion of the WYSH Plan. Several virtual meetings resulted in a plan of action, including an agenda for a new stakeholder meeting. NCSD was able to provide information about similar work in other states, as well as access to national level data to support work on the WYSH plan. All original stakeholders were invited to attend the meeting, along with other key stakeholders who were identified as critical to the conversation. NCSD staff flew to Seattle to support facilitation of this meeting and provided additional follow-up support. The most critical feedback we received at that re-convening of stakeholders was the need for youth input to inform WYSH Plan revisions. While we had access to national and state data, we did not have a good sense of how youth identified problems with access to services or their experiences with sexual health services. NCSD supported OSPI in developing a survey, which was administered to over 100 youth.
After survey administration, OSPI convened a panel of young people who reviewed the results and determined new goals for the WYSH Plan. In a follow-up meeting with stakeholders, there was a call for additional data from youth across the state. In partnership with DOH, a second round of implementation is planned in order to provide more robust youth feedback for WYSH Plan stakeholders to consider. New partnerships have developed as a result of this project, between staff at OSPI and DOH, as well as with youth engagement organizations.
Andrea Wessel is the Sexual Health Education Program Specialist at the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. Andrea coordinates the School Health Profiles Survey, supports Sexual Violence Prevention in WA public schools, and helps provide technical assistance on inclusive Sexual Health Education to educators, schools, and districts. She also is helping develop the Washington Youth Sexual Health (WYSH) Plan, where she works with youth to ensure their experiences & thoughts drive the project. Andrea graduated with her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Washington State University and is passionate about anti-racism work and centering youth voice. You can contact Andrea at Andrea.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Laurie Dils has 35 years’ experience as a sexuality educator in Washington State and Vancouver, BC. Her nonprofit experience includes training, coalition-building, policy work, and providing sexuality education to students, parents and the general public. Laurie has been with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction for 8 years and currently serves as the Program Supervisor for Sexual Health Education, where she passionately supports inclusive, comprehensive instruction for students. Laurie received her Master’s in Social Work degree from the University of Washington (UW), and she is especially proud to be the parent of a recent UW Honors graduate. You can contact Laurie at Laurie.email@example.com.
In 2018, NCSD and Child Trends in partnership with the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) established the Leadership Exchange for Adolescent Health Promotion, or LEAHP (pronounced LEEP). LEAHP is a learning collaborative of multi-sector, state-level leadership teams with the goal to develop state specific actionable strategies to support policy assessment, development, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation for adolescent health in three priority areas: sexual health education (SHE), sexual health services (SHS), and safe and supportive environments (SSE). Participants of LEAHP benefit from peer-to-peer collaboration, in-depth training from subject matter experts, access to scientific research and data, and concentrated, state-specific technical assistance. If you are interested in participating in LEAHP or would like more information about working with the NCSD adolescent sexual health team, please contact Christy Altidor, Senior Manager, Training and Technical Assistance.