The Will County Health Department’s Tobacco Control and Prevention Program (TCPP) has been serving suburban Chicago for over 10 years. In the past two years, TCPP has had to adapt to sweeping changes in its required activities and think strategically about its sustainability.
Traditionally, TCPP focused 90% of its efforts on programming in schools, communities, and worksites; but in 2012, the funding agency (Illinois Department of Public Health) began calling for significant modifications to TCPP activities. First, TCPP was required to drastically reduce the number of programs it offered and switch to targeting four specific communities. Then in 2014, TCPP must cut all direct programming, and focus its activities entirely on policy, system, and environmental based change.
TCPP has taken a proactive approach in planning for required changes. Staff researched best practices and requested technical assistance from the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO). With NACCHO support, TCPP was able to revise program implementation plans to focus on policy, systems, and environmental change and also reconvene the local Coalition Toward a Tobacco Free Will County. Staff recently finished revising TCPP’s implementation plans to be policy, system and environmental change based. All that remained was to start work on a sustainability plan.
In spring of 2013, NACCHO recommended TCPP use Washington University’s Program Sustainability Assessment Tool to rate sustainability capacity of their efforts. According to Cindy J., the program manager,
The Program Sustainability Tool was easy to use and it only took about 15-20 minutes to complete. After the assessment was completed we were immediately emailed a sustainability report for TCPP. The report indicated that we still have work to do in developing a sustainable program.
Overall sustainability capacity of TCPP was 4.8 out of 7 (1 = little to no extent and 7 = great extent of sustainability). The report indicated that the program was strongest in Program Adaptation (score: 7) and weakest in Strategic Planning (score: 2.8).
TCPP aims to convene a planning team of staff and tobacco coalition members to address the areas that need improvement and to develop an action plan to strengthen the program’s sustainability. “The great thing about this tool,” says Cindy J., “is that Sustaintool.org also has a step-by-step guide to Plan for Sustainability, which will make developing our own sustainability plan easier.”