Partner Collaboration

Successful school-based health centers (SBHCs) rely on the collaborative efforts of a diverse group of partners. At model SBHCs, educators and health care providers work together closely—and are often joined by colleagues from local non-profit organizations, such as those running youth development programs. By drawing upon their partners’ collective strengths, SBHCs maximize their impact on students’ health and academic learning.

As we all know, however, collaboration is easier said than done. Even the most dedicated people can find it difficult to work together in support of an SBHC: although educators and health care providers share a focus on student success, they have different professional obligations and priorities. In addition, the complex legal requirements imposed by FERPA (the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) and HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) may sometimes make it difficult for partners to share student information as freely as they might like.

For all of these reasons, successful collaboration requires a deliberate and measured planning process.

For additional information and tools related to partner collaboration, see:


Partner Build Grow Toolkit

Want to implement new partnership and collaboration strategies to improve the sustainability of your SBHC? The Center for Health and Health Care in Schools (CHHCS) has an Action Guide that uses an evidence-based approach to assist in the advancement and sustainability of school-based child development and behavioral health services. Their advocacy steps are broken down into four interconnected prongs: Mapping Assets, Building an Action Team, Connection with the Policy Environment, and Communications. Each section comes with guiding questions and a list of key actions to help facilitate the planning process. Use this toolkit to review and adapt these strategies to develop a plan that helps you take advantage of resources and collaboration opportunities in your environment.


Many of the strategies and resources included in this section are adapted from Partnering with School-Based Health Centers: What Schools Need to Know, a toolkit developed for the national School-Based Health Alliance by the Illinois Coalition for School Health Centers, in collaboration with Chicago Public Schools and the Illinois Department of Human Services, with funding from The Atlantic Philanthropies.