Engage Youth, Families, and Community in Assessment and Planning
All school health services should respond to the needs of students, families, and the community. A key step in expanding school health services is to bring together interested parties to assess community needs and map existing resources. This will guide you and other stakeholders as you decide what new services to offer, who will be eligible to receive them, and where to locate them.
When youth, families, and community members are engaged in the planning process, they are able to establish a clear vision for student health services, identify concerns about certain services before they become crises, and determine how to address possible future opposition. Also, by engaging youth and families, you will likely increase utilization of existing and new services. Be sure to draw on expertise from diverse individuals and groups and to involve key community decision makers—some of whom may become school health services “champions.”
The California School Health Centers Association’s (CSHC) toolkit, From Vision to Reality: How to Build a School Health Center from the Ground Up has tips/tools, including surveys.
Stakeholders to Engage
- School Board Member(s)
- School Health Services Staff
- Community Health Services Providers
- Local Elected Officials
- Other Interested Partners
Case Study – Riverbank High School
The health center at Riverbank High School was spearheaded by both youth and parents, all of whom were involved from the very start. A social worker at the high school had been working with a group of students interested in developing peer programs. The idea of a campus/community health center grew out of student organizing and from the results of a survey that students conducted with their peers and community members. From the beginning, youth were the ‘face’ of the initiative and spread the word about the center to their parents and with the larger community. The Family Resource Center, which recognized parents as experts in the health of their children, was also instrumental in engaging family members in the start-up. Ultimately, parents acted as vocal advocates for the health center when it came time to solicit support from key education stakeholders. Read more about Riverbank High School’s health center.