Sick children can’t focus on learning, yet many students in our region go to school every day with health challenges ranging from minor illness to chronic conditions. However, schools are uniquely positioned to increase access to healthcare and provide vital education and environments that help children develop healthy habits and reach their full potential.
School nurses are on the front lines of meeting the health needs of students. Their work goes far beyond bandaging playground scrapes, to helping students manage chronic health conditions, learn healthy habits, and connect to community resources. However, community input and data shared with Moses Taylor Foundation indicates that local school nurses are often under-staffed, under-supplied, and in need of additional professional development opportunities. Responding to this feedback, the Foundation has prioritized supporting school nurses in their work to meet student health needs across the Foundation’s 11-county region, particularly in districts where more than 50% of students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.
School-based health centers have been proven as effective, sustainable models to eliminate health disparities and barriers to care, improving health outcomes for students and their families.
As part of our effort to expand school-based health, the Foundation is providing support to create new, and expand services offered at existing, school-based health centers in Lackawanna and Luzerne counties. Priority will be given to schools with large percentages of low-income students, high enrollment, and lack of proximity to comparable care. By the end of 2023, we seek to double the percentage of K-12 public school students in the two counties who have access to school-based health centers from 14 percent to 28 percent.
In addition to creating and expanding centers, the Foundation will support the development of a local school-based health center learning community to provide a vehicle for shared learning and development. Exploring implementation of coordinated school health approaches and training in trauma-informed care will be among the priorities of this group, in accordance with feedback received from the community.
The Foundation is currently partnering with the National Association of School Nurses (NASN) to conduct a needs assessment of school nurses in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The assessment will identify the current challenges that school nurses face in meeting the health needs of their students and identify potential solutions for how they can be supported in overcoming those barriers. The results of the assessment are expected in March 2020 and will be shared with the community, as well as used to shape the Foundation’s school nurse funding strategy. No funding opportunities for this initiative will be available until after the completion of the needs assessment.
Medical entities interested in partnering with schools in Luzerne or Lackawanna County to open a new school-based health center are encouraged to contact Program Officer Christine Marcos for more information.
*Organizations that receive support through the Foundation’s strategic initiatives are still eligible to also receive funding through the organization’s responsive and capacity-building priorities.