New Directions Grantees Focus on Youth and Family Engagement

3568673346_68de5d80b6_oEffective youth and family engagement practices at school-based health centers (SBHCs) can lead to improved community relationships and better health outcomes. Such practices can also mean improved sustainability, productivity, and fiscal health for SBHCs.

This is why several sites in our New Directions for School­-Based Health grant program focused on family and youth engagement projects to improve specific health outcomes. Our grantees built relationships with schools, students, providers, community-based partners, and managed care organizations to reach more clients and strengthen the fiscal health of their SBHCs.

In El Paso County, Texas, Project Vida Health Center (PVHC) partnered with their health education department to launch a successful series of tobacco cessation workshops for teens and adults. Workshop evaluations indicated that youth participants had stopped smoking and adults had either stopped or planned to quit in the next 30 days. Youth also said that the workshop series helped them exercise more, deal with stress in a healthier way, and eat better.

Another grantee, Family Health Centers of San Diego (FHCSD), engaged students and families in their own health care by connecting overall well-being to academic success through the patient-centered medical home (PCMH) model. Activities included student empowerment groups, parent classes, guest speakers, and recreational events to build knowledge and skills, reduce social isolation among participants, and foster stronger social ties.

FHCSD served 400 students and 236 parents in 120 sessions and nearly all participants demonstrated increased knowledge and skills. Additionally, every participant was given details about SBHC services and information about additional community resources and events.

Among the most valuable takeaways for these grantees?

  • The power of partnership: Both grantees forged new alliances and leveraged existing partnerships to create referral systems, recruit participants, and secure resources like meeting space and curricula.
  • Put it in writing: Using memoranda of understanding (MOUs) helped clarify partner roles and responsibilities for both grantees. PVHC used a written recruitment and retention plan that outlined key strategies and implementation tools, and FHCSD customized their curriculum and lesson plans for their wellness program, both of which are available to interested SBHCs.

About the grant program:

The School-Based Health Alliance, in partnership with CVS Health, established the New Directions for School-Based Health grant program to create the next generation of school-based health centers. The program tasked grantees with building the capacity of the school-based health care field to become integrated and active participants in the larger health care ecosystem through policy and practice solutions.


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