Staffing Up

Staffing Up: Governmental Public Health Workforce Calculator

How Many Full-Time-Equivalents Does your Health Department Need?

COMING SOON: Determine your health department’s workforce needs.

By Fall 2022, the Public Health Workforce Calculator will be available for use. The Calculator will be designed to reflect the total number of full-time equivalents (FTE) a health department needs to provide the Foundational Public Health Services (FPHS) in their community. In some communities, the FPHS are provided solely by one governmental public health department and in others, the FPHS are provided through a system including a local health department plus other local health departments or the state health department.

To effectively use the calculator, a health department will need to:

  • Serve a population of fewer than 500,000
  • Operate within a decentralized public health system*
  • Have the ability to provide reasonable estimates of the level of effort currently contributing to the FPHS.
    • A template will be available to guide you through the needed information

The Calculator is being developed with data from health departments that have undertaken FPHS capacity and cost estimation work. The data provided from large, local health departments and centralized states was limited and not generalizable at this time. Therefore, the calculator will be most effective for those local health departments serving populations under 500,000 in decentralized states.

* Local health departments are primarily led by employees of local government and the local governments retain control over most fiscal decisions.

In the past decade, state and local health departments lost 15 percent of their essential staff. These cuts have limited the ability of health departments to plan for and respond to emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic and to meet the daily needs of their communities.

While several frameworks have outlined the activities and responsibilities of governmental public health departments, none have articulated the number of staff needed to carry out those activities based on the size of the jurisdiction served. The “Staffing Up: Determining Public Health Workforce Levels Needed to Serve the Nation” (Staffing Up) initiative was designed to make the case for sufficient staffing to protect the public’s health.

From September 2020-June 2021, the Public Health National Center for Innovations at the Public Health Accreditation Board partnered with the de Beaumont Foundation on the Staffing Up workforce initiative. The goal of these effort was to develop a national estimate of staffing needed to perform the Foundational Public Health Services. The estimate found that more than 80,000 additional FTEs are needed in state and local health departments to implement the FPHS. Public health experts, including representatives from state, local, and Tribal health departments, federal partners, non-governmental partners, and academia, served on a Steering Committee and a Research Advisory Committee to inform the work.

View the research brief here and the full project report, Protecting the Public's Health: An Estimate of Staffing Needed to Serve the Nation, here, to learn more.

On February 10, 2022, PHNCI and the de Beaumont Foundation hosted a webinar on the first-of-its-kind research-based estimation of the number of public health workers needed in state and local health departments. Panelists answered audience questions, dove into the value of the estimate and calculator for governmental health departments, and shared experiences from their work. View the recording below:

The development of the national estimate relied on modeling existing expenditure and staffing data for a sample of local and state health departments. A partnership between PHNCI, the de Beaumont Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Center for State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Support supported additional data collection, analysis, and modeling efforts that guided the development of the Public Health Workforce Calculator to allow health departments to determine the number and type of staff to provide sufficient levels of public health services.