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City of Chicago’s Mayoral Transition Report: Health and Human Services

Upon his election to serve as the next Mayor of the City of Chicago, Mayor Brandon Johnson brought together a team of nearly 400 diverse leaders comprised of civic and business leaders, movement organizers, academicians, philanthropists, unions, faith-based leaders, trade and health leaders, and activists to serve on various committees. These leaders agreed to volunteer their time, knowledge, and insights to explore the city's massive challenges.

After weeks of meetings and hundreds of hours of conversation, the Johnson administration has culminated the results of these meetings with the release of a 223-page transition report to serve as a road map for the next four years. The administration developed the report with citizen expertise, collaboration, and a co-governance perspective, giving voice to those most impacted by the issues government seeks to solve.


The Johnson administration believes that access to health care is a human right and has prioritized the well-being of Chicagoans and publicized their view that access to health care is a human right. The Health and Human Services sub-committee recommended 12 priority areas that address mental health access, adequate health care funding, cultural sensitivity in services, coordination improvement, and equitable budget allocation. Their specific goals include:

1. Fight for policy and structural changes that transform the lives of Chicagoans

  • Advocate at the federal and state levels to ensure health care as a basic human right

  • Encourage parity for behavioral and dental health and high-quality, safe, affordable, and culturally respectful health services

  • Advocate for fresh food, universal childcare, early learning, and other basic needs to be met for every Chicagoan

  • Highlight the role of the Chicago Board of Health as a leader in policy issues


2. Realize the potential of the Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) to be a leader for the human services sector

  • Harness the unique power DFSS holds as a municipal body to leverage its position to convene community organizations (CBOs) around shared work

  • Operate more collaboratively versus siloed to ensure access to shared learning, data collection and dissemination, communication, education, and best practices

  • Become a leader in closing equity gaps in income by ending poverty-wage jobs


3. Optimize the city’s role as a funder by ensuring no money is left on the table

  • Identify the state and federal grants only available to Chicago because in the past, the city has not managed to engage in these opportunities

  • Examine processes and set priorities that support the administration’s goals

  • Consider a nonprofit partner to dispense funds more effectively

  • Listen to agencies who can provide feedback on streamlining processes and improving efficiency

4. Develop, enhance, and invest in integrated approaches to addressing the whole person

  • Recognize that various issues impact people living in poverty and often must engage multiple departments to access resources and services.

  • Streamline services among departments to reduce duplication of paperwork

  • Consider a community information exchange to share appropriate data

  • Align services across departments

5. Declare a human services state of emergency

  • Acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic’s exacerbation of health care needs of Chicagoans and strained the health care system

  • Realize that the influx of migrants to Chicago has created another level of crisis for health

  • Mayor Johnson to declare a public declaration of a health care crisis which would set a precedent to elevate these issues and call both state and federal leaders to more action

  • Coordinate response systems to ensure communication and collaboration will strengthen health outcomes

6. Build a Public Health Infrastructure that promotes and protects the health and well-being of Chicagoans and the communities in which they live

  • Create a Chicago/Cook County Study Commission to examine the possibilities of building and maintaining a strong organizational infrastructure for public medical services and public health

7. Improve surveillance and data infrastructure

  • Decolonize data to better and more accurately capture diverse groups of people not to skew how population groups are being oppressed

  • Invest in and expand the Chicago Health Atlas to create opportunities for community members to understand data, receive training, and partner with academic institutions to address delays with the Illinois Department of Public Health data infrastructure

8. Ensure prevention as a core activity


Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) should:

  • Serve as a regional leader to champion preventative health measures, educate, coordinate, and advocate for gender-specific and culturally respectful services

  • Leverage departments within the city, as well as other organizations and institutions, to expand resources and activities

  • Document the impact of investments or disinvestments in schools, parks, and community services

9. Advance Environmental Health

  • Accelerate the schedule to replace lead pipes

  • Strengthen environmental justice activities through staffing within CDPH and education

10. Recognize the Health Workforce is the most important component of the public health infrastructure

  • Leverage the region’s rich academic institutions and create partnerships by utilizing the city’s agencies for internships and training for new health care workers

11. Acknowledge violence as a public health Issue: a measure of well-being

  • Address the daily systems of violence rooted in protecting dominant white, heteronormative, ableist, and patriarchal power structures

  • Address structural racism; failure to do so is seen as an act of violence

12. Overhaul the mental health system

  • CDPH to expand and improve direct service provision with a personalized focus on behavioral health care

  • Implement better accountability and coordination systems for mental health clinics receiving public funding to improve the scope and quality of service

  • Increase non-police crisis response and integrate it with sustained crisis-prevention services

  • Work to improve coordination with agencies across the city, county, and state

In addition to the recommendations outlined here vy the health and human services sub-committee, several other focus areas in the report reflect HC3’s members' and partners' goals and vision for a more vibrant and healthier city of Chicago.


The economic vitality and equity section aligned with HC3’s “economic development” pillar highlights funding and pathways for opportunities and overall economic opportunity, especially in the city's south and west sides. The public safety section aligns with HC3’s “System Transformation” pillar outlining alternative approaches to investing in a holistic approach to addressing public safety that is not reliant solely on the police and more on crisis intervention, along with prioritizing a workforce that reflects the communities being served. And the housing section aligns with HC3’s “addressing health and social disparities” pillar with recommendations that support meeting people where they are by providing anyone unhoused with services of their choice and access to safe and affordable housing options.

The transition team has recommended incorporating an evaluation process to ensure the administration stays on track with all the goals, strategies, and desired outcomes proposed in the report. HC3 has a vested interest in the success of the mayor’s agenda and will continue to evaluate and monitor progress and share updates through our strategic communications, programming, and initiatives.


We encourage all members and partners to share any updates and progress you are making at the organizational or community level to support these efforts. And let us know how we can leverage the power of HC3’s network and resources to advance opportunities. Contact Meghan@HC3.Health with your thoughts and ideas.


 

Link to the transition report: here


Additional news and resources about the report: Press release here; Articles here, here, here, here, here


Contributors to this post include:


Jordana Choucair, Senior Vice President of Communications, Third Horizon Strategies


Meghan Philipp, Executive Director, HC3


Chasity Wells-Armstrong, Strategic Consultant to HC3

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