Staffing Up

Staffing Up: Determining Public Health Workforce Levels Needed to Serve the Nation

The Public Health National Center for Innovations (PHNCI) is partnering with the de Beaumont Foundation on a new workforce initiative, “Staffing Up: Determining Public Health Workforce Levels Needed to Serve the Nation.” The goal of the initiative is to develop recommendations for staffing levels in the governmental public health system in the United States.

Since 2008, there has been a 20% decrease in the governmental public health workforce, which was already operating with minimally sufficient levels of staff. Continued funding reductions (which led directly to staff reductions) have severely impacted staffing capacity and hindered the ability of our nation’s health departments to address community needs and protect and promote health in the communities they serve.

The COVID-19 crisis has increased awareness of these critical gaps in public health among stakeholders and community members outside the field. However, a lack of consistent data on the current state of public health infrastructure, including funding and staffing, makes it difficult for health departments to identify and champion the right level of staffing to respond to public health needs.

The goal of “Staffing Up” is to develop staffing level recommendations that can be used to:

  • Advocate for increased funding for the governmental public health system.
  • Inform decisions about how to staff health departments.
  • Build upon the recommendations to more clearly communicate the value and role of public health workers to other fields.

From September 2020 through May 2021, the de Beaumont Foundation and PHNCI are engaging public health experts, including representatives from state, local, tribal, and territorial health departments, federal partners, non-governmental partners, and academia, to serve on a Steering Committee and a Research Advisory Committee.

The Steering Committee will use research-based recommendations from the Research Advisory Committee and additional qualitative data to articulate the types and numbers of staff needed in health departments to perform the foundational public health services.

Additional resources will be added as they become available.