Guided by our strategic plan, NCDHHS works toward five strategic priorites.
Three are areas of activity that bring together multiple divisions and external partners. They are behavioral health and resilience, child and family well-being, and a strong and inclusive workforce.
Two goals are fundamental ways that we approach our work across the department. Our Health Equity Portfolio synthesizes and guides efforts across NCDHHS and beyond to erase gaps in whole-person health. Our Data Office works the numbers to tell us how we are doing.
Priority Areas of Our Work
Behavioral Health and Resilience
The COVID-19 pandemic brought unprecedented stressors that exacerbated the mental and behavioral health crisis in North Carolina and across the country. To build resiliency, investments must be made in coordinated systems of care that make mental health services easy to access when and where they are needed and reduce the stigma around accessing these services. Research shows that coordinated systems of care for people with behavioral health issues or substance use disorders are effective at improving outcomes.
Child and Family Well-Being
The pandemic also placed immense stress on North Carolina families and children, limited available services and eroded safety nets. NCDHHS is working to make it easier for children and families to access the healthcare, programs and supports they need. The department has extended Medicaid to keep families and babies healthy, and it is developing new Medicaid healthcare plans that are tailored to the specific needs of children and families. It leverages data and technology to make it easier for families to access essential food programs that support whole child and whole family health. The department is also supporting the mental health needs of North Carolina's children with new programs in schools and communities.
Strong and Inclusive Workforce
Long-standing workforce challenges became more pressing during the pandemic and exposed the reality that our health care workforce is essential to keeping North Carolinians healthy and well. The department is prioritizing a focus on building a strong and inclusive workforce that supports early learning, health and wellness across North Carolina. From early childhood educators to direct care workers and public health leaders, NCDHHS is committed to building a workforce that will continue to keep North Carolinians healthy and well. This includes investigating new compensation models, career pathways and inclusive employment strategies that will support a workforce that is ready for our next challenge and is reflective of our entire community.
Approach to Our Work
To champion equitable health outcomes for the 10 million North Carolinians we serve, and support internal workforce Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts, NCDHHS established a new Health Equity Portfolio (HEP) in 2021 and hired its first Chief Health Equity Officer, Debra Farrington, to lead the Portfolio. The Portfolio is composed of three Offices: Office of Rural Health, Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and Office of Health Equity. The new Office of Health Equity includes the former NCDHHS Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities combined with Latinx and Hispanic Policy and Strategy. The work of the Portfolio is grounded in the 2021-2023 NCDHHS Strategic Plan, specifically Goal 1, “Advance health equity by reducing disparities in opportunity and outcomes for historically marginalized populations within DHHS and across the state.”
Public health has long relied on data to guide decisions that often save lives. Multiple metrics guided the response to COVID-19, and data is critical across all divisions at NCDHHS. The Data Office helps the department use the data to optimize services and improve health outcomes for people across North Carolina. Chief Data Officer Jessie Tennenbaum leads the big-picture thinking on this topic for the Department.