Given the role that illness plays in contributing to school absences, health providers and school nurses have an important role in ensuring students do not miss school unnecessarily because of chronic illness or lack of access to health care. What you do can make a big difference in whether students show up for class ready to learn. Read this handout to learn why health care providers should care about attendance and what they can do.
The National Collaborative on Education and Health has created these summaries of research connecting health and chronic absence:
These fliers help parents decide when their children are too sick for school.
- A Health Flyer for Parents: Alameda County, Calif
- How Sick is Too Sick: Baltimore, Maryland
- How Sick is Too Sick: Spanish version
- A Parent’s Guide to Attendance: Central Texas
Grantmakers in Health hosted this webinar to help explain why chronic absenteeism is of interest to health funders, how philanthropy and federal agencies are tackling the issue, and how foundations and corporate giving programs can become involved in driving solutions.
- Chronic Absenteeism: What Are We Missing? (October 11, 2016)
Elev8 Baltimore and the Baltimore Student Attendance Campaign collaborated to prepare a preliminary review of absenteeism and school-based health services in Baltimore City. It is a first look into the links between absenteeism and school health from a local, state and national perspective.
- State of Chronic Absenteeism and School Health: A Preliminary Review for the Baltimore Community (April 2012)
Use this tool to assess what policies and practices your school, school-based clinic, or medical practice employs to reduce school absences.
- Does Our School-Based Health Program Help to Reduce Chronic Absence and Improve School Attendance? (PDF)
California School Health Centers Association produced this toolkit that includes a section on how to identify and intervene with chronically absent students. It offers tips and case studies for home visits, case management and other strategies.
- Download the toolkit: Connecting Students to Mental Health Services: Creative Collaborations, Funding, and Evidence-Based Practices
- More chronic absence resources from the California School Health Centers Association
The Healthy Schools Campaign created a toolkit for educators, with a focus on district decision-makers, with tips, case studies and proven school-based interventions to support students with high absenteeism. The six-part toolkit includes strategies for developing community and public health partners. Download the toolkit sections:
- Overview: Addressing the Health-Related Causes of Chronic Absenteeism: A Toolkit for Action
- Background: Chronic Absenteeism + Student Health
- Taking Action: Understanding Student Health Needs
- Taking Action: Addressing the Health-Related Reasons Students Are Absent
- Taking Action: Building Effective Partnerships to Support Student Health
- Taking Action: Building Capacity
Health and Chronic Absence
These tools present general information about the relationship between poor health and chronic absence.
- Check out our research page on Health Issues and Absenteeism for more studies and articles.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics, Michigan Chapter issued a guest column with suggestions for how health care providers can help kids stay in school.
- The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation developed a policy brief that takes a close look at the reasons behind chronic absenteeism, its adverse impact on health and life outcomes, and offers potential solutions.
- The Journal of School Nursing published a report, Does Contact by a Family Nurse Practitioner Decrease Early School Absence?, which found the presence of school nurses may lead to fewer absences and improved attendance.
- The Santa Clara County Children’s Health Initiative published a brief, Santa Clara County Children’s Health Initiative Improves Children’s Health, that showed that children who have access to health insurance miss less school days.
- The Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Racial Justice at Harvard Law School released a report on How Health, Healthcare Access & Health Education Affect Student Attendance. They also provide a companion PowerPoint presentation with strategies for improvement.
- The California Endowment, the James Irvine Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation created this brief, Student Health and Well-being are Vital to Academic Results.
- The Journal of School Health published this study in 2010: The Relationship Between School-Based Health Centers, Rates of Early Dismissal From School, and Loss of Seat Time.
- Check out our blog post on health.
Specific Health Issues
Here are some in depth resources for addressing specific health issues that present barriers to attendance.
- Report: The Surgeon General released a report on Oral Health in America in 2000.
- Brief: The Business Case for Improving State Dental Policies
- Policy: The Children’s Dental Health Project provides tools and resources surrounding dental health and children.
- Article: This New America Media article from 2010 gives examples specific to California.
- Check out our blog post on dental health.
- Guides: The CDC has a Guide for Creating Asthma Friendly Schools which includes the American Lung Association’s Open Airways for Schools Program. The National Institutes of Health offers Managing Asthma: A Guide for Schools. The National School Boards Association and American Association of School Administrators developed In the Schoolyard and Beyond, a guide for families, schools and organization seeking to manage asthma.
- Presentation: This PowerPoint outlines methods for communities to address children’s health issues and design solutions that reduce the impact of health issues like asthma that lead to chronic absence.
- Research: This study, Burden of Asthma in Inner-City Elementary Schoolchildren, documents the role that school-based health centers play in reducing absences related to asthma.
- Example: Read an article about New York’s inter-agency efforts to fight asthma and chronic absence.
- Check out our blog post on asthma.
- Videos: These Asthma QuickTake videos and corresponding materials from the California School Environmental Health and Asthma Collaborative provide important information about how schools and families can reduce asthma triggers and, when needed, respond to an asthma episode (please note this is specific to California law).
- Policy: UCLA’s Center for Mental Health in schools released this policy brief on absenteeism, School Attendance: Focusing on Engagement and Re-engagement
- Video: Arizona School Breakfast Program: Breakfast in the Classroom, the Valley of the Sun United Way teams up with the Arizona Department of Education and the Dairy Council of Arizona to make sure kids start the day off with a good meal.
- Fact sheet: Read the School Breakfast Program fact sheet developed by the Share Our Strength, No Kid Hungry campaign