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Community Schools—Improving School Success through Collaboration
A community school is the result of collaboration between a school, community partners and local government. All of these entities join forces to make sure every child has access to the academic, health and social supports they need. The partners work together to identify and understand children’s needs, and coordinate and leverage the necessary resources to address those needs.
A community school is not a program. It’s a collaborative approach to supporting student success that includes such components as afterschool and summer programming, family engagement and support services, and physical and mental health services. A community school strives to be a full-spectrum resource for families and children, reflecting the needs of and becoming the center of the community.
In every community, there are multiple entities charged with serving the same universe of children and families. Too often these service providers fail to align their efforts. Everyone loses in such a situation, but it’s the families and children who lose the most. Coordination of efforts creates efficiencies for schools, and public and private agencies, allowing them to realize cost savings while better serving the community. In other words, community schools are a win-win proposition.
The Critical Need for Student and Family Support Services
- Chronic absence in the early grades has been identified as a strong predictor of school failure and drop out. Chronic absence is defined as missing more than 10% of the school year. (National Center for Children in Poverty, September 2008).
- An analysis of student attendance in nine school districts across the country showed that 11% of kindergarteners and almost nine percent of first graders were chronically absent (National Center for Children in Poverty, September 2008).
- Asthma is the leading cause of school absences and accounts for three times more lost schools days than any other cause (Journal of School Health, December 2008; UCLA Policy Brief, July 2008).
- Nearly 18% of California adolescents have asthma, which was responsible for an estimated 1.9 million missed days of school in 2005 (Journal of School Health, December 2008; UCLA Policy Brief, July 2008).
- According to the Surgeon General, one in every five young people experience some kind of mental health problem, and one in 10 young people age nine or older has a serious emotional disturbance that severely impacts the child’s everyday life. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1999).
- Three-fourths of children experiencing mental health problems do not receive the care they need. (RAND, 2001).
Questions about Community Schools?
Please contact Deanna Niebuhr, Director, Community Schools Initiative