Keeping Kids in School Through School-Based Health Centers: Recommended Reading

Nov 21, 2011, 7:08 PM, Posted by NewPublicHealth

Poverty, violence, drug use and other social issues contribute to the national school dropout rate—and students' health, according to research from the American Public Health Association. Nearly one-third of students do not graduate from high school, and that rate rises to fifty percent for Latino, Native American and Hispanic students. To help address health and social issues that impact the dropout rate, APHA recently launched a new Center for School, Health and Education, with a brand new website.

“Many social factors driving students to drop out of school… also present barriers their health, well-being and safety,” says Alan Baker, APHA’s interim executive director. APHA data shows that students who receive health and social support are more likely to stay in school and get better grades and that students who use school-based health centers have better grades and attendance compared to students who don’t use the centers.

“School-based health centers have the capacity to impact dropout by creating school-wide policies and programs that address a wide range of social and health barriers,” says Baker.

In addition to resources and reports to provide background on the issues that impact dropout rates, the site includes recent news on school-based initiatives. Recent stories have included a report that found that expulsions and suspensions, which increase the dropout rate, are often for minor infractions. The site also reported on a program that partners medical and dental students from the University of California/San Francisco with local middle school students to help improve heath behaviors and outcomes.

APHA has also published a new book, School-Based Health Care: Advancing Educational Success and Public Health ($24.50 for APHA members, $35 for non members),which includes an overview of the value of school-based health care and chapters by experts in the field, such as one on challenges and roles for school-based health centers following Hurricane Katrina.

>>Read more on the role of schools in children's health.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF New Public Health blog.