Developing a School Health Program
In order to effectively and safely serve the health and wellness needs of all students, an in-depth assessment of the current and future needs is necessary for schools to provide optimal services, ensure that students are healthy and ready to learn.
The Whole School, Whole Child, Whole Community Model expands on the traditional model of Coordinated School Health. It recognizes that health and education are always working together to help students thrive. In order to understand the unique needs in a school and district, the formation of a School Health Advisory Committee (SHAC) is recommended.
SHAC members may include:
- District administration
- School board members
- Teacher representation from all buildings and a variety of grade levels
- School Nurses
- Physical education teachers
- Health educators
- Counselors/Social Workers
- Nutrition services
- Health and Safety Representatives
- Wellness Committee Representatives
- Providers from local clinics or hospitals
- Public health partners
- Community members and business owners
- Community organizations that work with schools
SHAC membership should represent the diversity of the community and the school. The committee's collective knowledge, expertise, and influence is crucial for implementing a Whole School, Whole Child, Whole Community approach.
Essential responsibilities of a SHAC:
- Complete a district or school needs assessment.
- Review local, state and federal laws around school health and ensuring their implementation.
- Use the SHAC assessment and the district Comprehensive Needs Assessment to recommend program implementation and guidelines for all 10 areas of the WSCC model.
- Regularly evaluating health and social problems affecting students and families and developing partnerships and resources for addressing these needs.
- Serve as an advocate for the school health program and improved health status for children, youth and families in the community.
- Recommend resources for the school health program.
- Participate in evaluating the effectiveness and outcomes of the school health program.
The School Health Assessment is foundational in building strong health services programs. There are many assessments to choose from. Some are listed here, however it is most important to think about the community and school individually and understand the unique assets and opportunities for growth. Health Assessment Tool for Schools (HATS)
Licensed School Nurse and School Health Office Data
The Licensed School Nurse collects and has a significant amount of aggregate health services and student data. If a district does not have a Licensed School Nurse it is important to understand that recording and protection this information is a necessary function in a school. If it is not being collected, stored and protected this is a significant gap that should be identified and named in the assessment. If the data is available, it should be used in assessing the school health program and the past health services provided to student and their families such as:
- Total number of students served in the health office annually
- Number of individual health plans (IHPs) and emergency care plans (ECPs)
- Number of students with chronic health conditions, then further divided into subcategories of specific condition
- Students receiving medications
- Students with emergency medications that require additional planning and staff training
- Students receiving treatments
- Students on IEPs that require health involvement (not just students who currently do, but all students who by law should have nursing assessment and planning)
- Students with PCA services through medical assistance
- Number of buildings the nurse serves
- Nurse involvement in student support teams
- Number of Incident reports annually
- Staff training
- Care coordination
- Classroom education
- Infectious disease monitoring and intervention
- Screenings, kinds of screening, numbers screened and interventions resulting
- Family education
Community, State and Federal Data to Consider:
Local Public Health Community Assessment and Planning
In Minnesota, the local public health agencies are required to complete Community Assessments through their Community Health Boards (CHBs). Using the Community Health Assessment, which includes schools and districts, the CHB creates their ten priority areas. The information gathered in the Community Health Assessment about future and current students and their families is valuable information for the school's needs assessment.
More information is available from the Office of Performance Improvement at the Minnesota Department of Health.
- Minnesota Student Survey
Even if your school district did not participate in the survey, the data is a great resource for thinking about what is affecting Minnesota youth.
- MDE data center.
- Head Start
- Family Home Visiting (FHV)
- Minnesota Children and Youth with Special Health Needs (CYSHN)
- Minnesota Department of Health's Maternal Child Health (MCH)
The Maternal and Child Health Section houses the State School Health Consultant.
- Minnesota Department of Health's State Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP)
- Minnesota Interagency Children's Mental Health and Family Service Collaborative