The National Collaborative on Education and Health steering committee met June 6 and 7 at Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Total Health to to set the priorities for the National Collaborative’s fourth year of work. Some of the key opportunities the Collaborative will continue to support in the coming year include the following:
- Implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA): ESSA presents a new and important opportunity to more fully integrate student health into education policy and practice. The Collaborative will play an important role in ensuring healthy schools and student health and wellness are supported through ESSA implementation. This will include working with state advocates to develop state ESSA plans that support health and wellness and ensuring school districts receive the guidance and support needed to effectively implement the new law.
- Health systems transformation: Increasing access to school health services has been a key focus of the Collaborative’s work and will continue to be in the coming year. Moving forward, HSC and TFAH will continue to co-convene the Healthy Students, Promising Futures Learning Collaborative which includes 14 state teams working to increase access to school health services through Medicaid reimbursement. Best practices and lessons learned from this work will be shared with the field by members of the Collaborative.
- Additional topics that were discussed at the meeting include the health and education needs of rural students and new and ongoing initiatives to support health and wellness from the U.S. Department of Education and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Today, millions of students are not able to attend school in environments that support the connection between health and learning. They cannot engage in physical activity during the day, their school buildings lack healthy air, access to fresh water, nutritious food and/or a school nurse; all of which are important to supporting academic achievement. On top of that, one out of every four students has one or more health problems, such as asthma or diabetes, that further undermine her ability to focus in school or even attend.
Health and education systems are inextricably linked, yet they are missing key opportunities to work together to support student health and learning. If we can incorporate health and wellness into the school culture and environment, we can help close the academic achievement gap and ensure this generation does not become the first in American history to live shorter, less healthy lives than their parents. Recognizing this connection and acting to strengthen collaboration between the health and education sectors is one of the most important steps we can take to support the success and well-being of the next generation.
This is the driving force of the National Collaborative on Education and Health, a group co-convened by Healthy Schools Campaign (HSC) and Trust for America’s Health (TFAH). Since its launch in February 2014, the Collaborative has brought together over 150 stakeholders including advocates, policymakers, school stakeholders and funders to work towards more fully integrating education and health. This means building schools’ capacity to address the needs that exist today and the needs we can’t yet anticipate. It is also about building the health sector’s capacity to engage the community, including schools, in truly promoting health.
As the National Collaborative moves into its fourth year of work, members look forward to building on its successes and continuing to share the group’s work and highlight the lessons and strategies learned. Learn more: National Collaborative on Education and Health.
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