Addressing both physical both physical and mental health needs has the greatest impact on overall health.

With this in mind, we are focusing on:

Improving Sexual and Reproductive Health 

Couple holding handsWhy it Matters

  • Reproductive and sexual health is an important part of our physical, emotional, mental, and social well-being throughout our lives.
  • Without treatment and prevention, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can spread to others and cause long-term health problems.

What the Data Shows

  • Dane County has high rates of STIs and is ranked in the top seven of Wisconsin counties for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis.
  • There are disparities in unintended birth rates by race/ethnicity, age, education, health insurance before pregnancy, and poverty status.
  • Reports of sexual assaults increased from 2011-2015 in Dane County.
  • Nearly a third of non-first time births were conceived less than 18 months from the previous birth. When pregnancy spacing is less than 18 months, the likelihood of poor health outcomes for both the mother and child increases.
  • Learn More: Sexual and Reproductive Health: Moving Towards Equity & A Common Vision to Improve Health

Initiatives to Improve Sexual and Reproductive Health

  • We are coordinating a Sexual and Reproductive Health Alliance to bring together county-wide partners to facilitate community action to improve sexual and reproductive health.
  • In collaboration with the Wisconsin Trans Health Coalition, we established a trans inclusion training curriculum for our sexual health providers and Planned Parenthood clinic staff in Dane County.
  • We are working with the Madison Metropolitan School District to improve the referral process for youth to access sexual health services.
  • We have expanded the medical services provided in our Sexual Health Clinic and are exploring opportunities for target outreach and sexual health service delivery to high risk populations in Madison and Dane County.

Reducing Hunger and Improving Food Security

bag of groceries

Why it Matters

Many in Dane County are food insecure and struggle to put food on the table. (Food insecurity is a lack of assured access to sufficient food for a healthy and active life for all household members at all times.)

  • Food plays an important role in the health and well-being of individuals, families and children.
  • Increasing food security among children helps their development.
  • In adults, food security is linked to lowering the risk of obesity and chronic disease, including cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.

What the Data Shows

  • Food insecurity affects nearly 12% of all people in Dane County, and 17.5% of children in Dane County.
  • Hunger is more prevalent in households of color, households with a single parent or a senior/disabled family member, and households with limited transportation.
  • Learn more: Hunger and Food Security in Wisconsin and Dane County

Initiatives to Improve Food Security

  • We collaboratively work on strategies and policies that contribute to improving community food security and nutrition. Efforts to promote food security center around improving economic security, access to affordable and nutritious food, supporting participation in nutrition assistance programs and connecting persons in crisis to the emergency food network which provides a safety net.
  • Examples of collaborative initiatives to address food insecurity include:
    • Expanded summer meals for children from low-income neighborhoods
    • Incentives program for qualifying persons to purchase fresh, local foods at Farmer’s Markets.
    • Supporting retail outlets to locate in low-income areas with an understanding of local needs
    • Universal screening for food insecurity at all pediatric physicals at Dane County health care providers.

Increasing Opportunities and Places to be Physically Active

family biking

Why it Matters

Active living is a necessary component of a healthy life. Increasing physical activity prevents obesity, improves mental health, and promotes physical health among children and adults.

What the Data Shows

  • One out of every six Dane County adults are inactive, putting them at an increased risk of obesity, heart disease, and type II diabetes.
  • The places we live, work, play and learn shape our willingness and ability to be physically active. The way our roads, schools, parks, and buildings are designed and maintained can have an enormous impact on our health.
  • Due to economic, public safety, transportation or other barriers, some population groups have fewer opportunities to be physically active than others.


We work with communities to make improvements to the built environment make it easier to be active and to encourage walking and biking and other forms of physical activity through:

  • Promoting community design and development that supports physical activity.
  • Facilitating access to safe, accessible, and affordable places for physical activity.