South San Francisco, CA September 30, 2021 Submitted by Matt Skryja, Kaiser Permanente
Integrated health resource supports schools’ emerging needs
As the world continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and school systems are increasingly recognized as a center of support in their communities, Alliance for a Healthier Generation (Healthier Generation) and Kaiser Permanente, the nation’s largest nonprofit integrated health care organization, have launched the Thriving Schools Integrated Assessment. This no-cost, evidence-informed tool helps schools and districts identify opportunities for promoting student achievement and supporting the well-being of students, staff, and teachers.
The Thriving Schools Integrated Assessment helps schools evaluate strengths and gaps across a broad range of topics including social-emotional health, food access, and staff well-being, so that they can improve factors that impact health and learning, such as attendance, discipline, and school climate. Hosted within the Healthier Generation Action Center, the assessment provides actionable steps and credible resources that focus on health equity and help to advance improvements in whole child health.
The integrated assessment helps schools and districts:
- Identify strengths and opportunities to support students and staff
- Determine goals that align with needs, priorities, and available resources
- Build skills and processes to facilitate and sustain change
- Demonstrate the educational benefit of integrating health-related strategies into district and school improvement
“The pandemic has clearly shown the interdependence of health and education, but our nation’s systems are not set up to prioritize this intersection,” said Annie Reed, DrPH, national director of Thriving Schools at Kaiser Permanente. “At Kaiser Permanente, we are working to redefine how we can support schools to prioritize health. To that end, we are proud to partner with Healthier Generation to help school systems create learning environments that also support the well-being of students and educators.”
As students and educators adjust to the return of in-person instruction, schools continue to be called upon to meet families’ child care, social-emotional, physical, nutritional, and medical needs — in addition to providing education and addressing challenges that resulted from schools shuttering for in-person learning. There is a strong connection between health and education, and schools cannot successfully address students’ educational needs without also prioritizing their health. In addition, prioritizing the well-being of educators is essential to creating a learning environment where everyone can thrive. This includes all the adults who support our children at school including teachers, cafeteria workers, school nurses, custodians, and bus drivers.
“We know that healthy, safe, supported students learn better and are more likely to succeed in all the ways that matter to them,” said Kathy Higgins, chief executive officer of Healthier Generation. “This tool meets education leaders where they are and provides quality resources to support them in meeting the health equity needs of their community. By taking an integrated approach to health and learning, we are helping school systems maximize the impact of their investments to ensure every young person is healthy and ready to succeed.”
Schools and districts can engage with the tool at their own level and pace, whether they are interested in focusing on one topic or undertaking a comprehensive assessment. Recognizing the different roles that districts and individual schools play in facilitating improvements, 2 versions of the assessment have been developed.
- District assessment questions focus on policies and procedures that would typically be determined at the district level, as well as support that a district could provide to facilitate implementation of policies and practices at the school level.
- School assessment questions focus primarily on implementation of policies and practices within the school setting.
The distinct but coordinated district- and school-level versions of the assessment provide teams with unique insight into their approach to supporting whole child health and staff well-being. Teams may access and continuously update assessment responses and action plans in the Healthier Generation Action Center.
As long-standing premiere organizations in children’s health, Healthier Generation and Kaiser Permanente have partnered since 2013 on Thriving Schools and other initiatives that help schools support children’s physical, social, and emotional health.
About Alliance for a Healthier Generation
Alliance for a Healthier Generation is a leading children’s health organization that advances equitable whole child health. Driven by our passion to ensure that every mind, every body, and every young person is healthy and ready to succeed, our work has reached over 30 million young people across the country. To learn more and help make a difference, visit HealthierGeneration.org and join us on Facebook and Twitter.
About Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve approximately 12.5 million members in 8 states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists, and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery, and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education, and the support of community health.