Community schools recognize that students’ health and mental health needs must be met before they can succeed academically. This is why community schools are always seeking ways to integrate health services into their programs. Gateway Healthcare offers an excellent first aid/mental health training program to help teachers and staff identify children in crisis and respond appropriately, and many of our Child Opportunity Zone staff have been trained. The Child Opportunity Zones are working with the RI Department of Health and The Center for Disease Control and Prevention on its implementation of Health Equity Zones, which seek to eliminate health disparities using place-based strategies to promote healthy communities. A working list of COZ involvement in Health Equity Zones is available here: hez-involvement. Child opportunity zones also incorporate physical activity into after school and summer programming, collect food for families in need, provide health information through home visiting programs to expectant parents and parents of young children, offer a variety of health courses for parents, and more. Please stay tuned for a more thorough working list of programs offered at each COZ site. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to contact RIPCS through this website for more information.
*To learn how New York City’s community schools are incorporating health services, please see the August 6 New York Times article by David Kirp linked on the right.
The Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaces No Child Left Behind, contains promising language to expand the programs and reach of community schools. For a general summary of its potential for community schools, please read the following ESSA commentary in The Washington Post by Martin Blank, the Executive Director of the Coalition for Community Schools: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2016/03/11/is-a-new-day-really-dawning-with-no-child-left-behinds-successor-law/?postshare=7661457703376842&tid=ss_mail
In particular, Title I of the Every Student Succeeds Act contains key provisions in support of community schools, including:
- The mention of community partners who can provide needs assessments and a range of services within schools
- The use of non-academic indicators to measure school improvement
- The improvement of “school conditions for student learning” and identification of resource inequities
- Comprehensive needs assessments and schoolwide programs for targeted schools
In January, the Coalition for Community Schools submitted a letter to the U.S. Department of Education in support of community school policies related to ESSA. The letter and other information about how ESSA can support community schools is available here: