Civic engagement opportunities with MDH
People help MDH inform and support its work in a number of ways.
- Serving on advisory committees, program workgroups, or grant decision panels
- Providing feedback during the administrative rulemaking process
- Partnering to enhance effectiveness of efforts to improve health
- Participating in time-limited community input sessions or focus groups
- Informing policy development
MDH engagement efforts complement statewide efforts to ensure all Minnesotans have the same opportunities to work, do business, and fully participate in the business of the state—in 2015, Governor Mark Dayton established the Diversity and Inclusion Council with Executive Order 15-02 (PDF). The Diversity and Inclusion Council addresses civic engagement, among other issues. The civic engagement initiative intends to intentionally facilitate meaningful dialogue with the public in the state's work and in developing public policy.
Participating in MDH advisory groups and other groups that include external stakeholders
The Minnesota Legislature establishes statutory groups, and the Secretary of State administers a process for members to apply to be appointed to those groups.
- To find all agencies' current openings in Minnesota, visit: Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State: Boards and commissions
- To find opportunities specific to MDH, go directly to Appointing authority: Commissioner of Health
MDH has additional non-statutory groups.
- For a partial list of standing MDH committees, visit: Advisory committees at MDH
- If you would like to assist in the State of Minnesota's COVID/coronavirus response, please visit: Minnesota Responds Medical Reserve Corps
MDH also actively and routinely engages with and supports communities most impacted by health inequities; for example:
- Metro Immigrant and Refugee Health Network
- Somali public health advisors
- Tribal health directors
- Infant Mortality Among African-Americans Project
- Hmong TB advisory groups
Rulemaking is the formal process of working out how agencies will operate programs created by the legislature. The Minnesota Legislature gives state agencies authority to develop and implement administrative rules, and various MDH programs do this through rulemaking, which is a time-limited process and specifically includes public participation. Generally, agencies must seek input at two separate times: while the agencies are writing the rules (by a formal Request for Comments) and when the agencies officially propose their draft rules (with a Notice of Intent to Adopt Rules).
- Minnesota state agencies publish opportunities to participate in rulemaking in the Minnesota State Register, which is published weekly. for more information on how to follow state agency rulemaking, visit: Minnesota State Register
- MDH programs maintain their own information online for current rulemaking projects: MDH rulemaking docket
Informing and contributing to public health efforts
At various times, some MDH programs recruit community members and stakeholders to inform assessment and planning, reflect on program improvement, and participate in other activities to strengthen public health practice.
Assessment and planning
In public health, assessment includes collecting and evaluating qualitative and quantitative data related to a particular public health issue. This data then informs statewide health improvement planning.
MDH conducts a number of assessment and planning cycles on a regular basis, and others are more periodic. Most provide the opportunity for input from those who live and work in Minnesota. For example:
- MDH conducts a statewide health assessment every five years: Minnesota statewide health assessment
- MDH conducts the Minnesota Maternal and Child Health Assessment every five years: Minnesota maternal and child health assessment (MCH)
Minnesota's community health boards conduct community health assessments and develop community health improvement plans alongside community members and stakeholders.
- Contact your county's local health department to find out how you can participate in this process: Find a local health department or community health board
Many MDH program reports are informed by seeking community input into specific issues to answer questions unanswered by data. For example:
- In 2014, MDH asked community members for input on Advancing health equity in Minnesota (PDF; see chapter 6 for community input)
- In 2016, community-based conversations informed findings on adult mental health in Minnesota's East African community: Somali mental health findings and recommendations (PDF)
Program development and improvement
MDH convenes ad hoc groups to dig deeper into a topic to inform how public health can shape new programs or improve existing programs.
- In 2014, the MDH Public Health Lab conducted focus groups with parents from the Twin Cities African-American and West African communities on reporting to parents on the sickle cell trait from the newborn screening test.
- To address tobacco-related inequities, MDH sought to identify tobacco prevention and control-related opportunities and priorities among groups most disparately impacted by commercial tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure: Community voices: Reducing tobacco-related health inequities