Expectations of CHS Administrators
Minnesota state statutes require each community health board to appoint a Community Health Services administrator. Minn. R. 4736.01101 (as above) sets forth minimum required qualifications for CHS administrators. The CHS administrator must meet the personnel standards in Minn. R. 4736.0110.
Related Chapter: Personnel Recommendations
A community health board is required to have a community health services administrator who has:
- A baccalaureate or higher degree in administration, public health, community health, environmental health, or nursing, and two years of documented public health experience in an administrative or supervisory capacity, or be registered as an environmental health specialist or sanitarian in the state of Minnesota and have two years of documented public health experience in an administrative or supervisory capacity;
- A master's or higher degree in administration, public health, community health, environmental health, or nursing, and one year of documented public health experience in an administrative or supervisory capacity;
- A baccalaureate or higher degree and four years of documented public health experience in an administrative or supervisory capacity.
The documented experience of a community health services administrator must include skills required to:
- Direct and implement health programs;
- Prepare and manage budgets;
- Manage a planning process to identify, coordinate, and deliver necessary services;
- Prepare necessary reports;
- Evaluate programs for efficiency and effectiveness;
- Coordinate the delivery of community health services with other public and private services; and
- Advise and assist the community health board in the selection, direction, and motivation of personnel.
The following is generally expected for public health leadership, in alignment with the Local Public Health Act and the annually-signed Assurances and Agreements.
- Assure the community health board meets the requirements of Minn. Stat. § 145A (Local Public Health Act), as well as relevant federal requirements
- Assure the community health board meets the responsibilities outlined in the Local Public Health Assurances and Agreements (signed and updated annually)
- Provide input and involvement in local and state public health policy development (as well as national, where applicable)
- Communicate public health matters to the Board/community health board
- Coordinate (or assure) the Local Public Health Assessment and Planning Process
- Possess oversight and approval of community health board annual reporting (PPMRS)
- Participate in SCHSAC (often as an alternate member) and on SCHSAC workgroups
- Possess signature authority for routine matters of the community health board (serve as the Agent of the Board)
Depending on a number of factors, CHS administrators may hold additional responsibilities and authorities. Community health board organizational structure and governance, local decisions, community need, grant requirements, and individual administrator experience/interest all contribute to the ways in which the role of the CHS administrator can vary from community health board to community health board.
For example, many CHS administrators of single-county community health boards also serve as the public health director or the public health nursing director. In some multi-county community health boards, only one of the county directors might also serve as the CHS administrator, either permanently or in rotation with other county directors. Playing dual roles like this may result in additional responsibilities, with one role receiving more attention than the other if it requires more time. In some other multi-county community health boards, the CHS administrator may be a completely separate position from that of the local health directors. The administrator may be employed by the community health board itself, rather than a specific county. In such arrangements, the influence or control that the CHS administrator has over program decisions and implementation varies.
A community's needs and desires can also influence a CHS administrator's authority and responsibilities. A CHS administrator might not be the top executive over public health in his/her agency; some single-county community health boards with combined departments (e.g., health and social services, health and veterans affairs, etc.) are structured this way. The CHS administrator is still recognized as the designated representative of the community health board, and as such has the authority to coordinate public health activities, regardless of organizational structure.
In 2010, the Minnesota Public Health Research to Action Network conducted a comprehensive survey of Minnesota's top local public health officials to assess how CHS administrators and others currently view their roles. The majority of CHS administrators reported filling multiple roles within their community health board. For more information on Minnesota's public health system and workforce, visit the Minnesota Public Health Research to Action Network.
In response to the need to capitalize on organizational trends in local public health, the SCHSAC Blueprint for a Successful Local Health Department Workgroup (or Blueprint Workgroup) developed the following position statement and recommendations for CHS administration (2010):
Today's public health field is increasingly demanding and complex. It requires strong (qualified, authoritative, and responsible) leadership. CHS administrators should provide visionary and strategic public health leadership at the local and state levels. They should have clear roles, responsibilities and authorities which are documented, shared and visible. Additionally, the role of the CHS administrator must remain responsive to the ever changing field of public health and should be periodically updated and evaluated.
The following additional qualifications are recommended as necessary for CHS administrators to effectively carry out their responsibilities.
- Meet the Tier 3 Core Competencies as defined by the Public Health Foundation and the Council on Linkages between Academia and Public Health Practice
- Align with the administration-related national public health standards and measures developed by the Public Health Accreditation Board; and
- Participate in continuing education, to be accomplished through yet to be developed CHS administrator orientation, mentorship program, and ongoing training opportunities.
In addition to their long-standing roles, CHS administrators ideally should:
- Participate in the hiring and direction of upper level local health department staff, particularly in multi-county community health boards;
- Facilitate or direct joint work planning among the counties within a multi-county community health board and/or within a region; and
- Actively engage in succession planning, specifically for the CHS administration role, but also for other leadership positions within the community health board and local health department.
Having sufficient authority is critical to strong and effective leadership. As such, CHS administrators should have the following authorities:
- Sufficient and regular access to the community health board and county boards (or city councils) to provide regular updates and give needed input on matters pertaining to public health; and
- The authority to oversee the development and execution of the budget for funds or resources going through the community health board.
- Local Public Health Act Funding
- Updating Minnesota's Blueprint for Public Health (PDF)
SCHSAC Blueprint for Successful Local Health Departments Workgroup
- Governance & Organization of Local Public Health Services in Minnesota (PDF)
Minnesota Public Health Research to Action Network
- Tier 3 Core Competencies for Public Health Professionals 
Council on Linkages between Academia and Public Health Practice
- Note: At the time of publication, the Public Health Foundation was anticipating releasing new core competencies. [return to text]