Attendance Awareness Month starts today. We recently wrote about the health-related causes of chronic absenteeism, and today we’re looking at key data sources to help districts and schools identify which health-related causes their students are struggling with.
Here are some key data sources that can help tremendously:
1. School health information cards
Every year, students across the country will submit health information cards to the school they attend. These cards include information pertaining to student health conditions, immunizations and medications. Compiling and analyzing this data can be helpful when deciding what health services and programming should be provided at the school. Lack of health services for chronic conditions, such as asthma, is a leading cause of chronic absenteeism.
2. Public health data systems
The local health department collects data on certain categories, such as age, race, gender and ZIP code. If you contact your local public health department, you can see what children’s health data they collect. From there, you can identify primary health concerns among children in a particular area.
3. Hospital community health needs assessments
Non-profit hospitals are required to do community health needs assessments once every three years. As a result, non-profit hospitals serving a given school district have data that can help schools better understand the health needs of their students. Check out your local non-profit hospital, and contact the community benefit coordinator to get the results of those assessments.
4. County Health Rankings & Roadmaps
Developed by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps tool measures the health of all counties in the U.S. and provides rankings of those counties, as well. The rankings are based on population health factors and identify areas that, if improved, would improve the overall health of the county. Key measures included are health outcomes, health behaviors, access to clinical care, social and economic factors and measures of the physical environment.
The CDC’s Youth Risk Behaviors Survey, while focused primarily on risky behavior rather than underlying health issues, includes valuable data such as rates of asthma and obesity. Depending on your location, the survey data may be available at a county or district level. Some states also release surveys that track health data, such as the California Healthy Kids Survey. These are a valuable resource in states where they are available.
This data can be used to make the case to both the health and education sectors about the need to work together to support student health and success. Making your case to key policymakers and community officials will be more effective if you present an evidence-based solution. Learn more about how to take action on reducing chronic absenteeism in section two of Addressing the Health-Related Causes of Chronic Absenteeism: A Toolkit for Action.