Nationwide Collaborative Network Launches to Improve Quality of School-Based Health Services

A new national initiative is underway to improve the quality of care for children and adolescents receiving services in schools.

The School-Based Health Alliance and the National Center for School Mental Health (NCSMH) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine recently launched the second iteration of a National Quality Initiative’s (NQI) school health services Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network (CoIIN). The two-day State Leadership CoIIN launch event brought together leaders and representatives from the federal government, state agencies and organizations, and school-based health centers (SBHCs) across nine states and the District of Columbia. Participants shared knowledge, developed action plans, and prepared for state visits and other sessions in the year ahead.

“The data are clear. Healthy kids learn better and grow up to be healthy adults,” said Alliance President Robert Boyd. “Thanks to funding from the Maternal Child Health Bureau, under the leadership of Dr. Sara Kinsman and Dr. Aite Aigbe, we are able to partner with NCSMH to identify best practices and new approaches for improving the quality of health care and behavioral health care in our schools.”

The NQI CoIIN is part of a 5-year cooperative agreement between the Alliance and NCSMH, which encourages SBHCs and CSMHs to adopt, report, and improve standardized performance measures. The Alliance’s Quality Counts initiative challenges all SBHCs to adopt and report standardized performance measures that quantify the critical services they provide. NCSMH hosts the School Health Assessment and Performance Evaluation (SHAPE) System, an online platform that offers schools, districts, and states a workspace and targeted resources to support school mental health quality improvement. Together with partners across the country, the NQI CoIIN will allow stakeholders to rapidly translate expert knowledge and best practices to practical program changes that improve the quality of care offered at SBHCs and CSMHs.

“We are so honored at the NCSMH to join with SBHA to lead the School-Based Health Services CoIIN,” said Dr. Nancy Lever, Co-Director of the NCSMH. “The CoIIN offers an incredible hands-on learning opportunity to inform states on how to accelerate innovation and the conditions needed to advance quality and sustainability in school health.”

Through this collaboration, the national school health services network will explore lessons and strategies for:

  • Improving the quality of care and using best business practices to promote sustainability among SBHCs and CSMHSs;
  • Increasing the number and use of SBHCs and CSMHs; and
  • Increasing state policies and programs that promote quality, sustainability, and growth of school-based health services.

“As a fierce advocate for children and school-based health services it excites me to see so many passionate folks from across the nation and sectors collaborating to work toward creating communities where all children and youth are healthy, safe, and successfully learning to thrive in life,” said Alliance Director of Programs Paula Fields.

In 2019 and 2020, NQI CoIIN participants will take part in state kickoff meetings, virtual learning sessions, action period calls, and quarterly community of practice meetings with state and federal partners. The learning collaborative will ultimately develop and implement approaches that accelerate the use of data and other evidence to scale and sustain improvements in practices and delivery systems.

Visit the Alliance and NCSMH websites to read more about the NQI and our other efforts to drive improvements in the quality of school health services and the health and wellness of youth and adolescents.

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