Nine Elements of Effective School Community Partnerships to Address Student Mental Health, Physical Health, and Overall Wellness
Two of the four pillars of successful community schools are integrated student supports, and family and community engagement. To fully succeed in these areas, community schools need meaningful and effective partnerships with community organizations that promote student wellness, including physical and mental health.
In 2016, the Institute for Educational Leadership, the Coalition for Community Schools, and the National Association of School Psychologists collaborated on a White Paper entitled, The Nine Elements of Effective School Community Partnerships to Address Student Mental Health, Physical Health, and Overall Wellness. According to their research, there are nine elements that must be present for such a partnership to be effective:
- A leadership team comprised of school and community stakeholders.
- Assets and needs assessment to address student health and wellness, and a framework for results.
- A designated person located at the school to lead the coordination of school–community partnerships.
- Clear expectations and shared accountability for the school and community partners.
- High-quality health and wellness services that leverage school and community resources.
- Ongoing comprehensive professional development for all school leaders, staff, and community partners.
- A detailed plan for long-term sustainability.
- Regular evaluation of effectiveness through a variety of measures.
- Communication plan to share progress and challenges
As noted in the report, all nine elements play an integral role in making a school-community partnership a success:
Schools offer a range of prevention and intervention services to promote student health and wellness; however, there are often times when the needs of the students and community are greater than the schools’ capacity to meet those needs. School-community partnerships can help increase the number of students who receive the comprehensive services they need, while improving the health of the community at large. However, schools and community partners must commit to work together in an intentional and strategic way, and their actions must complement and enhance the services already in place in the school building.The school and the community environment each offer a wealth of opportunities and supports for students and families. Yet, when the school and community form a collaborative partnership, they can collectively provide a wider range of services than either could on their own. However, schools and community-based organizations often operate very differently; as more schools and communities are forming partnerships to meet the needs of students and families, a set of guiding elements is needed to help ensure that all partnerships are effective. The following list highlights essential elements of school–community partnerships. These elements can be helpful at any stage of a school–community partnership and can help guide your efforts if you are just launching a partnership, refining existing partnerships, or scaling up in a community.
For more about each element, you can read the entirety of the white paper here (Click to download PDF):