One Year Anniversary: The National Collaborative on Education and Health

February 26, 2015

It was one year ago that Healthy Schools Campaign and Trust For America’s Health launched the National Collaborative on Education and Health.

It was one year ago on February 24 that Healthy Schools Campaign and Trust For America’s Health built upon our Health in Mind Report and the 2013 charge of the former Surgeon General and launched the National Collaborative on Education and Health. The Collaborative was a result of efforts advocates across the country have been leading for years to support the conditions for health in our schools.

The Collaborative brings together school stakeholders, advocates, policymakers and funders to work toward more fully integrating education and health. This means building the capacity of schools to address the health and education needs that exist today and the needs we can’t yet anticipate. It’s also about building the health sector’s capacity to engage the community — including schools — in truly promoting health.

Since its launch in February 2014, more than 70 individuals representing more than 40 national, state and local organizations have participated in the Collaborative and supported its efforts to transform the way we think about school health. The Collaborative has tackled such issues as how to increase access to school health services and how to integrate health and wellness indicators into school report cards. We’ve learned about innovative partnerships taking place across the country that bring educators and health providers together to support student health, and we’ve learned about states that are leading the way in making sure school health is a priority.

In the coming year, key priorities for the Collaborative will include :

  • Chronic absenteeism: Chronic absenteeism — or missing 10 percent or more of school days per year for any reason, excused or unexcused — is a proven early warning sign of academic risk and school dropout. As we’ve written about before, a leading cause of chronic absenteeism is student health issues. While there are efforts across the country that address chronic absenteeism, definitions are not consistent; the focus is often on unexcused absences at the middle and high school level, and few interventions address the health-related causes of chronic absenteeism. In 2015, the Collaborative will help take on this issue by engaging the health and public health sectors in efforts to address chronic absenteeism and by drawing the connection between chronic absenteeism and health. The Collaborative will also work to promote the adoption of a consistent definition of chronic absenteeism. The Collaborative looks forward to working with Attendance Works and other key allies on this issue.
  • Substance Abuse: Substance abuse remains a serious problem in the nation’s schools and negatively impacts student achievement and health. It’s important to determine how the education and health systems can work together to address this issue. Over the next year, the Collaborative will bring together key health and education leaders to identify best practices and emerging models, particularly related to early intervention and primary prevention of substance use (such as programs that build resilience among students like the Good Behavior Game).

In the past year, the Collaborative has made important progress toward transforming the conditions of health in schools and HSC looks forward to continuing its work with the Collaborative to advance this effort in the coming year.