Developing School Health Services in Massachusetts

Information about Essential School Health Service (ESHS) programs

For several decades, recognition of the link between health and education has steadily increased, with greater understanding that a child must be healthy to learn and a child must learn to be healthy. There is also greater recognition that school health service programs are in a unique position to improve child health status, resilience and well-being, provide care essential to the student's school attendance, and identify and refer students with certain health risks and conditions. These activities ultimately support the student's ability to learn and contribute to both the school and community state of health.

During the past twenty years, school health service programs (school-nurse-managed model) in the Commonwealth's 351 cities and towns, serving 953,748 public school students in 404 public schools and over 500 non-public schools (FY18 data), have faced many challenges, resulting in the demand for more onsite services. These challenges stem from such factors as changing family structure and support systems, social morbidities, changing priorities for public funds, classroom inclusion of large numbers of children with special health care needs, and many students who lack comprehensive health insurance coverage and/or primary care providers. As the health care delivery system undergoes a dramatic restructuring and hospital stays are reduced, management of many medical conditions, health related problems, disease prevention and health promotion have shifted to the school setting, where children spend their "working days." Yet, until recently, school health services in Massachusetts remained a largely unrecognized component of the health care delivery system serving children and youth.

Regional Advisor School Districts

Upon receipt of the award for the current ESHS program, school districts previously funded for the ESHS grants and meeting specific criteria, were eligible to apply for additional funding to be designated as regional advisor districts to provide consultation to ESHS grants within a generally defined region.

The general goal of the RA-ESHS grants was to maximize the existing school nursing expertise, leadership and infrastructure to provide additional consultation to ESHS programs (including their mentored school districts and community public schools as appropriate) within a general region. Please note: The RA-ESHS Programs are expected to meet the requirements of the basic ESHS program, as well as provide ongoing consultation assistance to the ESHS programs (including their mentored school districts and community public schools as appropriate).

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