Community Health Improvement

Healthy Whatcom is the name of Whatcom County’s community health improvement (CHI) process.

What does that mean, exactly? Imagine that our community’s health is a garden. CHI is the process of constantly tending to our community’s well-being, in order to help the garden thrive. It’s a cyclical process where we:

  • Gather fresh data: We use the latest information to understand the community’s health needs.
  • Plant new seeds: Based on the data, we identify new priorities and strategies to address emerging health concerns.
  • Nurture existing growth: We build on past efforts and successful initiatives to strengthen the community’s health foundation.
  • Dig deeper: We tackle the roots of health problems, addressing the underlying factors that negatively impact overall well-being.

Through this continuous cycle, Healthy Whatcom strives to create a thriving and healthy community for everyone.

Phases of Community Health Improvement:

1. Build the Community Health Foundation

To make it flourish, we first need to gather the right people – local leaders, partner organizations, and community members. Together, we’ll build a plan to work collaboratively toward a healthier, more equitable future.


2. Tell the Community Story

Next, we’ll work together to understand our community’s needs and strengths. This involves gathering data, listening to residents, and identifying our available resources.


3. Continuously Improve the Community

Based on our assessment, we identify top health concerns, research solutions, and take action. We track progress and adjust as needed.


Our responsibilities:

When it comes to implementing policies and programs, Healthy Whatcom focuses on data-driven results in order to improve health outcomes for children and families in our community. As we work to create more equitable outcomes in our community, we center the voices and experiences of people who are Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC), as well as people who have lived experience with our public health services and systems.

Practically speaking, here is how we ensure that we are making progress:

  1. We believe in strong partnerships between public and private organizations and individuals like you, because creating systems-level change is not possible for a single agency or program.
  2. We actively involve the community in every step of the process, ensuring their needs and aspirations are centered.
  3. We value diverse perspectives and experiences, especially from those most impacted.
  4. We strive to communicate effectively across organizations and with the community.
  5. We don’t just take action: we measure its effectiveness to ensure lasting positive change.

Developing our Community Health Improvement Plan

A Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) is a long-term action plan developed to address the priorities identified through the Community Health Assessment (CHA).

From spring through fall 2021, Healthy Whatcom hosted two Zoom workshop series. During these workshops, over 140 community partners examined data and created a Community Health Improvement Plan to improve the health and well-being of children and families in our community and advance racial justice. 

Participants were an intentional mix of people who represent the systems we operate in and are working to change; those with personal, lived experience trying to access housing, behavioral health, and child care services; and those who have experienced racism or marginalization during their time in Whatcom County. 

The first series examined early childhood well-being and kindergarten readiness data using the Results-Based Accountability process. At the end of the first set of meetings, participants identified eight “groundwater” strategies (learn more about the groundwater approach here) – proposed by participants who are Black, Indigenous, and other people of color – for transformational work in our community. These strategies formed the foundation for our second workshop series, where we focused on developing our Community Health Improvement Plan to improve child and youth mental health, early learning & care, and housing for children and families. Use the links below to learn more about our long-term goals and ongoing work, or download our CHIP and CHA reports in their entirety.