The Chicago School Health Access Collaborative (SHAC) brings together education and health stakeholders to identify ways to enhance student access to comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable healthcare, improve the service delivery model, and elevate equity and wellbeing.
Co-managed by Healthy Schools Campaign (HSC) and the Public Health Institute of Metropolitan Chicago (PHIMC), SHAC leverages the knowledge and expertise of its members to envision a school health system that provides all students with the health and wellness services they need.
More than 40 member organizations — including health and education advocacy groups, medical and behavioral health providers, healthcare payers and local foundations — work in partnership with Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and the Chicago Department of Public Health to advance the key priorities listed below.
By bringing together on-the-ground practitioners, advocates and school officials, SHAC is able to address system-level challenges and opportunities to ensure all students have access to the health and wellness services they need.
New participants are always welcome. Learn more about SHAC meetings.
What Makes SHAC Unique?
SHAC offers those involved in the delivery side of school health services, advocates of comprehensive school-based healthcare, and city agencies a space to network with each other, share best practices and identify opportunities to reduce healthcare barriers.
Public health department and CPS representatives attend meetings and provide information about school health and city-wide initiatives. Attendees share their expertise by presenting on the latest developments in the healthcare field and discussing local, state and national policy updates.
This collective problem-solving leads to new ideas and cross-sector partnerships to improve the school health system. All SHAC members are encouraged to initiate projects and take on leadership roles that match their interests. If your organization is interested in learning more about these efforts, please reach out to Meghana Menon, SHAC program manager.
SHAC’s main priorities in 2022 include health and racial equity, healthcare access and coordination, and delivery of comprehensive services. Specific program topics include:
• Adequate funding sources and equitable funding models
• Comprehensive behavioral and mental health support
• Trauma-informed healthcare
• Social determinants of health, including access to social services, food, housing and transportation
• Telehealth expansion
• Continuing impacts of the COVID pandemic
Learn how these priorities are informed by student health needs.
Chicago Student Health
Chicago Public Schools (CPS) serves more than 340,000 students (2020-21 school year). The majority of students are children of color (Black: 35.8 percent; Latinx: 46.7 percent), and nearly two-thirds of students are considered economically disadvantaged.
More than 40 percent of students are obese or overweight, and 25 percent have a chronic condition such as diabetes or asthma. Their current health status, along with limitations on accessing healthcare, means schools are the main healthcare provider for many of these students. In addition, schools are managing COVID testing as well as dealing with the trauma students are experiencing due to the pandemic.
Even before COVID, episodes of depression and worsening behavioral health were on the rise; the number of mood and depressive disorder hospitalizations for youth and teens has been increasing over the past two decades. The situation has only become worse during the pandemic. A survey of Chicago parents between November 2020 and February 2021 found that nearly half had talked with their child’s primary care doctor about mental or behavioral health concerns within the last year.
All of this makes a strong school health system imperative.
In 2017, Healthy Schools Campaign and Public Health Institute of Metropolitan Chicago conducted an analysis to identify existing models of school health service delivery in Chicago, further understand the infrastructure that supports school health, and identify gaps, challenges and opportunities for enhancement.
Despite studies confirming that comprehensive mental and physical health services are an essential component of student success, CPS does not have enough school-based nurses, counselors, social workers or health partnerships to meet student needs.
Access to care also is hindered by a fragmented service delivery system; poor communication among providers, schools and families; and inequitable distribution of services. These operational and infrastructure barriers further increase health disparities, leaving students more vulnerable to both acute and chronic health problems.
While the problem of healthcare access is not new, COVID-19 and its impact on schools creates a heightened urgency for better collaboration and investment. These issues inform both School Health Access Collaborative discussions and the projects that some members independently pursue.
School Health Access Collaborative (SHAC) discussions have facilitated action around a number of important system-level changes. Two of these current efforts are described below.
Projects are developed independently of SHAC governance and oversight. All participants are encouraged to generate new ideas and work on their own or in collaboration with other SHAC members.
Building a Student Health Data Network
Better data sharing between Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and providers is necessary to understand the health needs of students, identify gaps in service and coordinate care.
Healthy Schools Campaign (HSC) and Public Health Institute of Metropolitan Chicago (PHIMC) are working together, along with other School Health Access Collaborative (SHAC) members, to develop a comprehensive student health data network to increase data sharing across health and education sectors. PHIMC serves as the backbone organization and is staffing this project.
The student health data network will allow CPS, health providers, funders, advocates, policymakers and others to understand the health needs of students, the efficacy of services, and the impact on student health and education outcomes. Once completed, CPS and health providers will be in a better position to connect students to critical physical and behavioral health services — services that can improve students’ health and academic outcomes.
This process started with the development of a business plan combining community vision and experience with data-sharing best practices. Dozens of school health community members, representing 26 diverse organizations, are involved. The resulting plan recommended:
• A collective impact model approach
• The use of an innovative shared data platform
• A pilot phase using aggregate data
In 2021, Polk Bros. Foundation funded a pilot project, with Asemio, a social impact technology company, as the lead technology partner. The data contributors include Alternatives, Inc., CPS, Heartland Health Centers, UCAN and Youth Guidance. As of early 2022, the pilot stage is underway and is expected to conclude in early 2023.
The results of this pilot will be used to develop a comprehensive health and education data network with necessary governance and operational structures. The overall goals are to connect students to health services and to influence equitable resource allocation, program planning, staff alignment and school health investment decisions.
Expanding School Health Services Via Medicaid
SHAC members also have championed the need for ongoing and sustainable funding for school-based healthcare. As a result, HSC has taken the lead in helping Illinois expand Medicaid-funded school health services.
In 2021, HSC supported Illinois in submitting a state plan amendment to allow Medicaid reimbursement for all school health services provided to all students enrolled in Medicaid, instead of limiting reimbursement to the services included in a student’s IEP. The amendment also increases the types of providers eligible for Medicaid reimbursement.
This increased federal funding creates an opportunity to funnel investments into:
• Increasing access to and resources for behavioral and mental healthcare
• Increasing the number of school nurses and other health providers
• Partnerships between school districts and local partners and community-based organizations to build their capacity for health and SEL supports
For more information about this policy shift in Illinois, visit HSC’s section on Medicaid Expansion for School Health. Learn more about what’s happening at the national level at Healthy Students, Promising Futures, and sign up for HSC’s health policy newsletter for the latest updates.
Due to COVID, School Health Access Collaborative (SHAC) meetings are virtual. If you or your organization is interested in participating in future meetings, please contact Meghana Menon, SHAC program manager.
March 17, 2022 | Topic: Telehealth
May 26, 2022
July 28, 2022
Recent Meeting Summaries
Sept. 23, 2021 | Meeting Summary
Chicago Public Schools
• Ken Papineau, Director, Office of Student Health and Wellness
• Kate Yager, Director of Medicaid, Office of Finance
• Katie Manthei, Illinois AWARE Project Manager, Office of Social Emotional Learning
Chicago Department of Public Health
• Sarah Parchem, Program Director, Bureau of Maternal, Infant, Child, and Adolescent Health
• Amanda Walsh, Director, Illinois Children’s Mental Health Partnership
May 27, 2021 | Agenda
• Colleen Cicchetti, Executive Director, Center for Childhood Resilience
• Meyiya Coleman, Organizer, Voices of Youth in Chicago Education
• Aida Palma, Organizer and Translator, COFI POWER-PAC IL
• Marcel Smith, CPS Network Safety Manager, Whole School Safety Planning Committee
• Maria Toribio, Co-President, Elementary Justice Campaign
March 25, 2021 | Meeting Summary
• Rochelle Davis, President and CEO, Healthy Schools Campaign
• Dr. Ken Fox, Chief Health Officer, Chicago Public Schools Office of Student Health and Wellness
• Dr. Efraín Martínez, Principal, Orozco Academy
• Maricela Loredo, Manager of Marquette SBHC, Esperanza Health Centers
Managing Partners & Participants
Interested in joining the School Health Access Collaborative? Contact Meghana Menon, SHAC program manager, for more information.
Why participate in SHAC? Here’s what members say:
“Opportunity to learn about efforts across the health and behavioral health continuum”
“Better understanding of the relationship between CPS, CDPH and health providers and how they work together to provide health services within the schools”
“…[I]ncrease awareness and collaboration with key players including CPS representatives & funders”
“Updates from CDPH & CPS; networking and info sharing”
“The opportunity to actively engage with leaders from other school health centers”
Healthy Schools Campaign (HSC) and Public Health Institute of Metropolitan Chicago (PHIMC) co-convene SHAC and provide strategic leadership. PHIMC also provides staffing.
SHAC participants include Chicago Public Schools, Chicago Department of Public Health, and healthcare providers and representatives from the following organizations, academic institutions and foundations:
Advocate Health Care
Alternatives Youth, Inc.
Chicago Coalition for the Homeless
Chicago Community Oral Health Forum
Chicago Public Schools – OSEL/OSHW/Children’s First Fund
Children’s Home & Aid
Communities in Schools of Chicago
Erie Family Health Center
Esperanza Health Centers
Grant Healthcare Foundation
Healthy Schools Campaign
Heartland Health Centers
Illinois Children’s Mental Health Partnership
Illinois College of Optometry
Illinois Department of Public Health
Illinois Public Health Institute
Legal Council for Health Justice
Lurie Children’s Hospital
Lutheran Social Services of Illinois
Michael Reese Health Trust
Mobile Care Chicago
National Health Corps
Peer Health Exchange
Polk Bros. Foundation
Public Health Institute of Metropolitan Chicago
Respiratory Health Association
Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law
Sinai Health System – Under the Rainbow
Siragusa Family Foundation
UIC OCEAN Health Partnerships
University of Chicago Medical Center
University of Illinois at Chicago