|Concept to Action
Using Coordination, Partnerships, and Leadership to Plan and Implement
Infrastructure: Essential Elements
Responding to Public Policy
Challenges Facing Health and Education
Current State and Local
Using Coordination, Partnerships, and Leadership to Plan and Implement
As you plan and implement a CSHP,
keep in mind the necessity and benefit of pulling together the often fragmented programs
that aim to improve student health. Three areas cry out for coordination, partnership, and
- Funding: Currently, funding
streams are categorical. When they share similar objectives and features, health
promotion initiatives can complement rather than compete with one another by focusing on
outcomes and identifying activities that support multiple funding streams.
- Professional development: Currently,
training for education and health professionals is rarely interdisciplinary. When
professionals from multiple disciplines focus on improving student outcomes, they are more
able to see how they can contribute their expertise to the whole child.
- Stakeholders' understanding of the
link between academic performance and health: Currently, politics and local pressure
tend to spotlight improving education reform efforts, as if these can succeed alone.
When educators and other stakeholders see the impact of poor physical and mental health on
students, they make the connection between improving health outcomes and students'
Even though partners
are funded under categorical programs, they can jointly identify problems and solutions,
identify actions they will take together to address these problems and find solutions,
create a joint plan for measuring progress in carrying out their actions, and regularly
review their progress together.
The Planning Phase
Bringing together key players from
the school and community to assess needs and design a program can result in a planning
team. This planning team (e.g., an advisory board, a district or school health council, a
coalition) should focus on integrating funding, professional development, and the diverse
elements of health and education programming into a harmonious operation to best meet
Consider the following steps as you
create your team:
- Articulate a vision. Before
inviting members of your school community to join, have a solid understanding of why you
are bringing people together and what you want them to accomplish. Although this vision
will ultimately change as your team evolves, a common purpose represents an important
- Make connections. Once
you have articulated your vision, find out who within the school and community shares this
vision. When you find like-minded groups, keep your options open for coordinating your
agendas. In some cases, you may not even have to create a new team.
- Select partners. Once you have
a clear purpose and a sense of the terrain, it is time to identify key individuals,
systems, and resources. Be specific about what you need, knowledgeable about what
potential participants can offer, and discerning; you want to involve those people who are
in the best position to advance the CSHP initiative, not just those most willing to
participate or focused on furthering their own agenda. Be sure to include the following:
- Influential community leaders
who can command attention, make decisions, and provide access to resources.
- Representatives from diverse
backgrounds, so that all segments of your target population have a voice, yet no one
person is asked to be the sole spokesperson for his or her race, ethnic group, sex, sexual
- Passionately committed people
who truly care about children, want to work together, and believe in the potential of
- Professionals with skills and
experience that match the purpose and different components of your initiative.
- Students and families who have
a unique perspective on and strong investment in the issues that you seek to address.
- Build the team. Appeal
to the unique motivations and skills of the people you bring on board and be sensitive to
the fact that everyone is just as busy as you are. Try scheduling meetings at convenient
times and places and arranging for carpools and child care to maximize the likelihood that
your anticipated team members will be able to attend.
- Keep moving forward. Making
sure that the team runs smoothly and maintains high levels of enthusiasm over time is not
always easy, particularly once the initial excitement subsides and the hard work begins.
Every team struggles with such complications as turf issues, hidden agendas, frustratingly
slow progress, or disillusionment. There are steps that you can take to help your group
function well even in the face of obstacles:
- Provide leadership that keeps
the group on target, weaves together the different perspectives and resources of those
involved, and delegates responsibility among all participants.
- Build a foundation of trust and
respect by allowing sufficient time for relationship-building and developing ground
rules that support full participation and comfortable dialogue.
- Establish formal communication
channels that keep all of your partners informed and connected, such as weekly memos
or electronic mailing lists.
- Be organized and explicit so
that meetings follow agendas, people have all of the information they need and know what
is expected of them, and timelines are clear.
- Dont lose sight of the
individual as you work together as a team. Respect peoples time, capitalize on
individual strengths and interests, and recognize the different contributions of each
- Revisit the CSHP mission and
purpose regularly; make sure that you are accomplishing your goals and adjusting your
plans whenever necessary.
- Make sure that you get things
done! Try to avoid going for long periods of time without action; it is important for
your team members and for your overall plan to balance the time invested in your CSHP
initiative with genuine benefits and successes.
Once your team is assembled and you
have completed the planning phase, you need to zero in on implementation to advance the
Promote family involvement in
education and health promotion. Help young people master and maintain healthy messages
and life skills by reinforcing them across the contexts of home and school.
- Keep families informed about
health-related activities. Communication with parents and caregivers about
school-based efforts to promote student health (1) increases their awareness of the
different skills their children need to lead safe and healthy lives, (2) helps them
understand what they can do at home to support the development of these skills, (3) lets
them know how their children are progressing, and (4) increases their self-confidence and
willingness to become involved.
- Invite parents and caregivers into
the classroom and school. Parents and other family members should feel welcome at
their childrens school and have opportunities to (1) visit with school staff, (2)
observe and volunteer in classrooms, (3) attend school events, and (4) participate in a
range of health promotion and risk prevention activities. Some schools have created
school-based resource centers for parents.
- Build family capacity to support
students education and health. One important way to promote students
well-being is to increase the capacity of their parents and caregivers to address school-
and health-related issues. For example, consider offering family education workshops as
part of your CSHP initiative.
Create community linkages to
improve service provision:
- Gather and disseminate information
about community-based services. Develop or update a directory of social and community
service agencies that includes detailed descriptions and contact information. Distribute
this directory to families and staff and, if possible, make it available online. You may
also want to schedule regular community meetings to provide information about community
- Improve on- and off-site service
delivery. If your school has several health practitioners working through a
school-based health center, your planning team might want to identify and fill in any
existing service gaps among resources and services. If your school has few health
practitioners across multiple sites, work with community organizations and agencies (e.g.,
hospitals, Departments of Mental and Public Health) to bring teams of health service
professionals into the school setting or to create school-linked services housed in local
- Build family and staff capacity to
connect with appropriate services. Family education and staff development can help the
important adults in childrens lives identify student needs, connect them to
appropriate services, and follow up to make sure that services are being accessed and
needs are being met.
Increase program opportunities
through community connections. Out-of-school time has become an important focus
for local and national initiatives designed to promote positive youth outcomes.
After-school recreational and educational programs provide alternatives to dangerous
activities. They also offer opportunities to enhance the skills that are necessary to
avoid risky behaviors, build healthy relationships, and perform well in school. Here are
some examples of school-community education programs:
- Community service experiences
linked to classroom instruction. Service learning is an increasingly popular
educational strategy that promotes student development through active participation in and
careful reflection on community service.
- Adult-student mentoring
relationships. Mentoring programs offer young people a sustained connection to and
structured time with a caring adult who provides extra attention and guidance. Such
programs are associated with reduced high-risk behaviors and improved school bonding and
performance among youth. Especially for those already at risk, the presence of an adult
mentor can reinforce the value of healthy behaviors, the importance of school, and the
skills that students need to make good decisions.
- Career guidance and support.
Businesses can partner with schools to support student development by sponsoring career
days and providing internships and school-to-work programs. These opportunities connect
young people with caring and invested adults and create safe and productive alternatives
to high-risk behaviors. They can further provide direction, generate enthusiasm, and build
skills among young people that can lead them down a healthy and rewarding path.
Spread the message through
communications campaigns. In order to support school and family efforts to promote
healthy attitudes and behaviors among young people, the larger community must understand
the issues and be ready to act. Media and public education campaigns, as well as targeted
policy changes, can increase community awareness about specific problems facing local
youth, garner community support for CSHP activities, reinforce school-based programs, and
alter community norms. For more information on communications, click here. For more
information on community policies, click here.
Partnerships among schools,
students families, and members of the larger community are crucial at every stage in
the process of establishing a CSHP. Involving diverse stakeholders at the CSHP planning
stage garners support. Their continued involvement throughout the implementation process
strengthens the initiatives capacity to provide appropriate health promotion and
risk prevention activities and a continuum of coordinated services to achieve results.
Leadership at many levels is essential:
- Conceptualization and planning
requires school and community leaders participation.
- Implementation requires a
professional at the district or school level who is responsible for the management and
harmonious integration of school health policies, activities, and resources.
- Disseminating of the results and
obtaining funding to continue and replicate the program requires gubernatorial and