Community Schools address out-of-school barriers to learning through partnerships with social and health service agencies and providers, coordinated by the CSD. These partnerships help students attend school regularly and engage in learning through the provision of programs such as social emotional learning, conflict resolution training, and restorative justice, which support mental health and decrease conflict, bullying, and punitive disciplinary actions, including suspensions.
In partnership with the principal and members of the Community School collaborative leadership structure and other stakeholders, the Lead CBO develops a portfolio of partnerships, services, and programs in the areas of health and wellness, and integrated supports, which could include social services, adult and family services, restorative justice practices, and social emotional learning. These offerings are customized to the school and community based on the results of a comprehensive Assets and Needs Assessment, and systems must be put in place to ensure that services are targeted to the students who need them the most. Lead CBOs must ensure that all Wellness and Integrated Supports, including those provided by partner organizations, contribute to the creation of an affirming, supportive school environment, and incorporate anti-racism into program design, behavioral systems, and curricula.
Health and Wellness Services
Services must include the creation of a School Wellness Council and the coordination of vision screenings, and physical health services, including reproductive health services for high school students through the Connecting Adolescents to Comprehensive Health (CATCH) program. In partnership with the Department of Health (DOH) and Warby Parker, Community Schools provide free vision screening and prescription glasses to students who need them. Services also include the creation of school-linked partnerships to support community health needs through the provision of services on-site at the school and through the development of referral pathways.
Mental Health Services
Mental health services are incorporated into the culture of Community Schools to achieve the following goals:
- Increase access to quality mental health services.
- Build capacity of school staff, students, and families to understand and address mental health issues.
- Decrease stigma around mental health in the school community
The Lead CBO is responsible for supporting the day-to-day administrative functioning of student mental health services in the school, utilizing a three-tiered public health framework. Mental health service plans are required and should reflect the specific and unique needs of each school. The mental health service partnerships within each school should aim to overcome significant barriers known to prevent students and families from accessing these services, such as failure to recognize mental health issues, costs of treatment, inconvenient travel to providers, and concerns about stigma. There are three levels of mental health services.
- Targeted (Tier 3): Establish or strengthen relationships with specific supports and/or resources to address identified emotional, behavioral, and mental health needs. These services aim to improve social, emotional, and academic functioning and require intensive and specialized interventions and supports.
- Selective (Tier 2): Nurture and shape sustainable skills for optimal functioning with the purpose of preventing risk factors from further developing in intensity, frequency, and duration. These services aim to alleviate the impact of risk and can stand alone or function as a support to other interventions.
- Universal (Tier 1): Build the foundation to provide services intervention and supports for the whole school community. These services aim to form a sustainable system with the flexibility to address social, emotional, developmental, behavioral, and mental health needs of each school.
Mental Health Services should be determined in collaboration with the DOE’s School Mental Health Team in the Office of School Health.
Social Emotional Learning
Services must include programs that access the four domains of the Supportive Environment element of the Framework for Great Schools. Safety and Restorative Approaches to Behavior, Collaborative and Trusting Relationships, Equity and Student Voice, and Physical and Mental Wellness. Programs shall also include culturally-responsive training and professional development for adults, including parents, community partners, and school staff, on building students’ social emotional competencies and creating more equitable learning environments for all students. These social-emotional competencies are defined as self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.
Adult and Family Services
Services must focus on providing educational opportunities for families. Programs may include the creation of adult supports and programs such as housing assistance, immigration services, legal assistance, job training, adult educational classes, GED, language support classes, entrepreneurial/business development, and networking, which must be designed and offered based on local and individualized needs.
Students in Temporary Housing
The McKinney-Vento Act is a law that protects the public education of children and youth in temporary housing. Specifically, it mandates that children and youth affected by homelessness have equal access to the same free public education offered to children who are permanently housed. For more information on the rights of students in temporary housing, and how to support them at your school, visit the Students in Temporary Housing page.