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CSHP AT-A-GlanceConcept to ActionResourcesLinksNewsletter
Concept to Action Making Health Academic Home Concept to Action

Action Steps

Comprehensive School Health Education

School Counseling, Psychological, and Social Services

Healthy Schools Environment

Family and Community Involvement

School Health Services

School Nutrition

Physical Education

Health Promotion for Staff

Action Steps for Implementing Family and Community Involvement in School Health

With the enactment of the No Child Left Behind legislation, family and community partnerships with schools have become central.  Supportive families and social support within communities contribute to students’ success.  When children feel valued they are more likely to develop healthy skills, avoid risky behaviors and remain in school.   When parents are involved, students achieve more, regardless of socio-economic status, ethnic/racial background, or the parents’ education level.  The more extensive the parent involvement, the higher the student achievement.  Negative student behaviors, such as alcohol and substance abuse, violence, and antisocial behavior decrease as parent involvement increases.  Students are less likely to succeed when communities are economically deprived, disorganized, and lack opportunities for employment or youth involvement; when families do not set clear expectations, monitor children’s behavior, or model appropriate behaviors; and when schools present a negative climate and do not involve students and their families.

School-community partnerships have contributed to the success of coordinated school health programs across the country.  Communities expect schools and families to prepare students to become healthy, productive citizens.  Communities in turn have a responsibility to join with schools and families in support of efforts that can help achieve this goal.  To be successful, school and community partnerships must: have clear, concise responsibilities and expectations for each participant; allow for flexibility in organization and implementation; acknowledge that partnerships require a time commitment and that initial gains may be small; and provide appropriate training for teachers, administrators, and community members.

The school, the family, and the community each has its own unique resources; each can reach students in ways the others cannot; and each influences young people’s behaviors in different ways.  Together, as participants in a coordinated school health program, they can provide an environment in which students can learn and mature successfully.  Below you will find action steps and resources to help build family and community involvement into a CSHP.

Actions for Schools and School Districts

  • Create a an environment in which parents feel valued and welcome, and that is culturally sensitive, including developing supportive mission and policy statements
  • Outreach to encourage participation of parents who might have low-level literacy skills and/or from whom English is a second language
  • Involve parents and other family members in planning, curriculum and policy development, and decision making related to school health
  • Hire and train a family coordinator to act as a liaison between families and schools and coordinate family activities
  • Disseminate information on school reforms, policies, discipline procedures, assessment tools, and school goals, and include parents in any related decision-making process
  • Link parents to programs and resources within the community that provide support services to families, i.e., create an information and resource center to support families with training, resources, and other services; collaborate with community agencies to provide family support services and adult learning opportunities
  • Meet with parents at least twice a year, accommodating the varied schedules of parents, language barriers, and the need for child care
  • Encourage immediate contact between parents, teachers, principles, and other administrative staff when concerns arise
  • Communicate with parents regarding positive student behavior and achievement, not just regarding misbehavior or failure
  • Use creative forms of communication with families that make optimal use of new communication technologies
  • Encourage parents and students to volunteer and  provide ample training on volunteer procedures and school protocol
  • Ensure that parents who are unable to volunteer in the school building are given the options for helping other ways
  • Enlist community volunteers such as civic groups, service clubs, religious groups, seniors’ groups, and law enforcement
  • Develop partnerships with local businesses and services groups to advance student learning and assist schools and families
  • Survey parents regarding their interests, talents and availability, then coordinate the parent resources with those that exist within the school and among the faculty

Actions for Families and Students

  • Encourage children's healthy behaviors by praising appropriate behaviors and acting as positive role models
  • Cooperate with schools and others in the community to provide for children's physical and mental health services
  • Learn about and reinforce the skills and messages in children's health and physical education curricula and, if they are uncomfortable with a message, discuss their concerns with school decision makers
  • Communicate with teachers and administrative staff regarding the child’s progress and behavior
  • Use community resources that provide opportunities for children and other family members to engage in positive social and learning experiences
  • Participate in any parenting skill courses that my be offered by the school and/or community
  • Participate in all decision-making regarding school polices
  • Volunteer in the child’s school by joining the PTA, other parent organization, or parent advisory committee
  • Vote in school board elections
  • Advocate for better CSHP standards and funding at the local and state levels
  • Determine what components of a CSHP exist in the school, and work with the school and others in the community to strengthen weak components or establish those that are missing
  • Distribute notices and handouts at markets, clinics, community centers, and religious institutions to inform families and other community members about health issues and to garner broader community support

Actions for Community Members

  • Advocate for school health programs by speaking at community forums, writing letters to the editors of local newspapers, and updating organizations to which they belong
  • Meet with school personnel to determine what support can be offered to advance the school's or district's health objectives
  • Serve on a school-community committee for a CSHP or a particular component
  • Infuse community-based school health services into the school’s overall school health plan
  • Provide mentoring and after-school programs to give children safe havens from violence and alternatives to drugs
  • Provide school-to-work programs that lead to college, technical training, or good jobs after high school
  • Provide programs for parents that include academic classes, literacy training, career preparation, early childhood education, children’s health, and assistance in finding helpful services in the community
  • Offer summer learning programs through cultural institutions, parks and recreation, and other public and private agencies; activities might include programs at recreation centers, science and art museums, and libraries
  • Identify appropriate funding sources or raise funds to support the school health program
  • Nurture relationships between schools and community organizations that can provide young people with needed physical and mental health services

Actions for State and National Organizations and Colleges and Universities

  • Demonstrate commitment by developing infrastructures that support CSHPs, meeting with families and community groups to encourage their support, publicizing innovative models and exemplary programs, and encouraging organizational members and staff to become involved in their children's school health programs
  • Adopt supportive position statements, policies, and standards
  • Provide educational opportunities that help school personnel, family members, and others in the community work together more effectively
  • Encourage more active family and community involvement by educating members and constituents about CSHPs; developing media campaigns; offering grants; collecting, assessing, and sharing resources that help practitioners network with peers in the community; compiling a directory of consultants experienced in working with young people; or sponsoring conferences and supporting publications to disseminate information about exemplary local, state, and national initiatives

Adapted by permission of the publisher from Marx, E. & Wooley, S. F. (Eds.) (1998). Health Is Academic: A Guide to Coordinated School Health Programs. New York: Teachers College Press. 1998 by Education Development Center, Inc. All rights reserved.

Action steps were updated (2003) and adapted from the resources listed below.

For a more detailed discussion of Family and Community Involvement in Schools, see the book Health Is Academic.


Comprehensive School Health Initiative: Building Bridges Through Community Collaboration, Public Education Network (PEN)

Common Sense: Strategies for Raising Alcohol- and Drug-Free Children, National Parent Teachers Association (PTA)

Developing Family/School Partnerships, National Coalition for Parent Involvement in Education

Helping Your Child Succeed: How Parents Can Work with Schools and Communities to Help Their Children Meet High Standards, American Federation of Teachers (AFT)

National Standards for Parent/Family Involvement Programs, National PTA

Parental Involvement Improves Student Achievement, National Education Agency (NEA)

Partnership for Family Involvement in Education, U.S. Department of Education

Related Links

American Cancer Society

American Federation of Teachers

American Red Cross

Boys and Girls Clubs of America

Center for Family, School, and Community

Children's Aid Society

Coalition for Community Schools

Council of Chief State School Officers

Family Friendly Schools

Girls Incorporated

National Association of State Boards of Education

National Center for Family and Community Connections with Schools

National Coalition for Parent Involvement in Education

National Council of LaRaza

National Education Agency

National Network for Youth

National Urban League

The National PTA

Public Education Network

U.S. Department of Education

For other organizations that support school health, click on Links.


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