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

Concept to Action

Using Coordination, Partnerships, and Leadership to Plan and Implement CSHPs

Developing State Infrastructure: Essential Elements

Responding to Public Policy Challenges Facing Health and Education


Related Initiatives

Roles for Everyone

Action Steps

Current State and Local Initiatives



Using Coordination, Partnerships, and Leadership to Plan and Implement CSHPs

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 leadership:

  • 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' academic success.

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 student needs.

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 starting point.
  • 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 orientation, etc.

    • Passionately committed people who truly care about children, want to work together, and believe in the potential of CSHPs.

    • 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.

    • Don’t lose sight of the individual as you work together as a team. Respect people’s time, capitalize on individual strengths and interests, and recognize the different contributions of each participant.

    • 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.

The Implementation Phase

Once your team is assembled and you have completed the planning phase, you need to zero in on implementation to advance the CSHP initiative.

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 children’s 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 services.

  • 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 community settings.

  • Build family and staff capacity to connect with appropriate services. Family education and staff development can help the important adults in children’s 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 initiative’s 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 legislative leadership.


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