Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Partner's Perspective on Brookings Report...

So as to give you a variety of views on issues concerning and relating to community schools, from time to time we will include blog posts from our dedicated and broad array of partners from across the country. We are excited to share this very first one from the National Assembly on School-Based Health Care (NASBHC)! Their posting is in response to the Brookings Institute report, The Harlem Children’s Zone, Promise Neighborhoods, and the Broader, Bolder Approach to Education.

July 28, 2010

The Brookings Institute’s recent report, “The Harlem Children’s Zone, Promise Neighborhoods, and the Broader, Bolder Approach to Education,” correctly questions the best ways to impact student achievement, but is utterly wrong in its conclusion that: “There is no compelling evidence that investments in parenting classes, health services, nutritional programs, and community improvement in general have appreciable effects on student achievement in schools in the U.S.” School-based health care has an impact on student achievement, and deserves a strong federal commitment.

The National Assembly on School-Based Health Care (NASBHC) is the national voice for the nation’s nearly 2000 SBHCs and the children they serve. Founded in 1995 to promote and support the SBHC model, NASBHC’s mission is to improve the health status of children and youth by advancing and advocating for school-based health care. SBHCs provide critical health services directly to students with chronic and acute conditions, like asthma, in order to keep them in the classroom. SBHCs also offer mental health services that focus on improving the student’s emotional health to help them cope with issues such as stress and bullying, and help prevent high-risk behaviors such as drugs and alcohol.

Research increasingly shows that kids who have access to high quality, comprehensive health services in their school often have better academic success:

• A 2009 report issued by the Oregon Department of Human Services Public Health Division found that more than half (53%) of surveyed school-based health clinic (SBHC) users reported they did not miss a class while using the center services, while a majority (75%) estimated they would miss one or more classes if they had to leave their school to access health services.

• A 2010 study in the Journal of School Health by Maureen Van Cura (Vol. 80 pg. 371-377) also found that students not enrolled in an SBHC lost 3 times as much seat time as students enrolled in an SBHC, concluding that: “SBHCs have a direct impact on educational outcomes such as attendance.”

• A 2010 study in the Journal of Adolescent Health by Walter, Kerns, Lyon, Bruns & Cosgrove showed that low-income students with access to SBHCs services – including medical and mental health services – had lower discipline incidents and showed a stronger increase in their GPA than those without access to such services.

• A 2010 study in the Journal of School Health by Jessica Strolin-Goltzman (pg. 153-159) found that access to a SBHC was associated with greater satisfaction among students, parents, and teachers in the areas of academic expectations, communication, and school engagement. The author concludes her study by stating: “Perhaps by helping to eliminate the barriers that affect lower-performing students’ readiness to learn, while improving student and parent engagement, SBHCs can partner with schools to reach their performance and accountability goals.”

In fact, partnerships between SBHCs and schools are part of what make community schools such as the Harlem Children’s Zone so successful. SBHCs are an integral component of the model of community schools that incorporates many elements to help drive the success of its students. Community schools understand the importance of not just addressing the issues within the classroom, but also the issues that kids deal with outside the classroom.

SBHCs work with the schools and the communities in order to promote a more holistic approach to success that has been proven to work in various communities, including the Harlem Children’s Zone community.

NASBHC is proud to be a member of the Coalition for Community Schools, which provides youth development, community planning and development, family support, health and human services, government and philanthropy as well as national, state and local community school networks.

Linda Juszczak
Executive Director
National Assembly on School-Based Health Care

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