I talk a lot about getting to the root cause of chronic absence. The reality is, some absentee students are just plain sick. An estimated 22 million school days are lost annually to the common cold alone.
- Hedy Chang
Nurse Practitioner's Outreach Improves Attendance
Federal Health Care Reform Boosts In-School Health Centers
School-based health centers, which improve attendance as they address student health needs, now have a dedicated federal funding stream that provides for the construction and expansion of clinics across the country.
Under a little-known provision of the federal health care act approved last year, centers at public schools received $95 million in grants this summer. Research shows that school-based centers reduce the number of students sent home early for minor health problems and cut absenteeism rates for students with asthma. This 2009 Seattle study found that attendance rates increased for students who accessed medical services at their school-based health centers.
The California School Health Centers Association created the Resources For School Health web page and the Ready, Set, Success! toolkit to help schools launch school-based health centers and to show health providers how to maximize their efforts to reduce chronic absenteeism.
Dental Policy Changes Could Fill Gaps in Care
Toothaches and dental problems contribute to millions of lost days of school each year, often because children have too little access to dental care. The Pew Children's Dental Campaign is working in states across the nation to encourage low-cost state policy reforms that could expand the dental workforce and address this critical health issue.
In California, where children missed 874,000 school days in a recent year because of dental problems, a coalition led by The Children's Partnership is urging policymakers to implement workforce solutions to ensure there are enough dental providers to meet the needs of California's children. The goal is to deploy providers, supervised by dentists, who could focus on preventive and basic restorative care. By extending the reach of dentists, new workforce models can help ensure all children get the high-quality dental care they need in a cost-effective way.
New York City Tackles Asthma, School by School
Recognizing the toll that asthma takes on school attendance, New York City is piloting an initiative in 18 elementary schools this fall to bring the chronic respiratory illness under control. Community partners, physical education teachers, parents, city agencies, even health clubs are working together to support children with asthma. Each school will have an "asthma ambassador" trained to provide support to individual support to students.
According to the City Health Commissioner, asthma is a leading cause of absenteeism. The mayor's Interagency Task Force on Truancy, Chronic Absenteeism, & School Engagement has launched the NYC Asthma Friendly Schools Campaign in conjunction with the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
Issue 6, October 2011
How Sick is Too Sick?