Public health programs may be seriously affected in periods of federal retrenchment. During these times, state-based strategies provide an alternate pathway for advancing public health.
A 12-year campaign to secure state support for a network of Centers of Excellence in Children’s Environmental Health (CEH) promoting health of children across New York State is described. It was driven by rising rates of asthma, birth defects, developmental disorders, and other noncommunicable diseases in children; growing evidence associating hazardous environmental exposures with these conditions; and recognition that federal resources in CEH are insufficient.
Critical campaign elements were (1) formation of a statewide coalition of academic health centers, health care providers, public health officials, community advocates, and other stakeholders; (2) bipartisan collaborations with legislative champions and government leaders; (3) assessment of the burden of developmental disorders and noncommunicable diseases associated with environmental exposures among children; (4) maps documenting the presence of environmental hazards in every county statewide; (5) iterative charting of a changing political landscape; and (6) persistence. The 2017 award of a 5-year, $10 million contract to establish Centers of Excellence in CEH demonstrates the value of this statewide strategy. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print November 29, 2018: e1–e5. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2018.304742)