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County looks at future health CHANGE
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Barton County Health Department officials are looking at needs for local CHANGE, however county officials are concerned that the health initiatives don’t add to stresses already being felt by local businesses.
The Barton County Commission was briefed by the health department Monday on the Community Health Assessment and Group Evaluation — a process that is required of communities that intend to continue receiving community risk reduction grant money.
Commissioners were briefed on the new local effort by Health Department representatives Janel Rose and Lily Akings.
The program would be administered in Kansas through the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, however CHANGE is a federal tool, developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to CDC information:
“CDC’s Healthy Communities Program identified a need for new ways of assessing and documenting policy, systems, and environmental change in communities. After reviewing community assessment literature and local and state assessment tools and receiving internal and external partner input, the Healthy Communities Program developed Community Health Assessment aNd Group Evaluation (CHANGE). 
“CHANGE can be used to:
“• Gain a picture of the policy, systems, and environmental change strategies currently in place throughout the community.
“• Develop a community action plan for improving policies, systems, and the environment to facilitate and support healthy lifestyles.
“• Assist with prioritizing community needs and allocating available resources.
“CHANGE helps community teams (such as coalitions) develop their community action plan. The tool walks community team members through the assessment process and provides summary data about current policy, systems, and environmental change strategies. This helps communities define and prioritize possible areas of improvement. With this type of information as a guide, community team members can map out a course for using specifically-targeted action to make positive and sustainable changes in their communities. It can be used annually to assess current policy, systems, and environmental change strategies and offer new priorities for future efforts.”
Commissioners were assured that the local process will be completely voluntary and that the plan is to document local needs and offer options.