Education does not happen in a vacuum. We often see stories blaming teachers, schools, administrators, or the entire education system when children fall behind. Of course, it is not that simple. We know that many factors are barriers to a child's ability to learn.
One of these barriers is health. Two charter schools in St Louis are overcoming that barrier by helping make health-care affordable and accessible. Both Confluence Aspire Academy and Lift For Life Academy (LFLA) have opened new school-based health clinics to address health inequities by creating a seamless intersection of health and education.
Douglas Perry, Assistant VP of Community Health explained: “school-based health clinics are not new and have proven to help close health disparities gaps.” In communities around the country partnerships between schools and health clinics bring services to children and their families, rather than depending on them to navigate what is often an impossible system. The results of these programs are encouraging. Rochelle Bates of Confluence Academies, who helped conceptualize and implement the program at Aspire, noted that when children are “hungry or hurting” learning can become an insurmountable task.
These new clinics offer both medical and behavioral health services for students and their families, even providing parents with help enrolling in Medicaid and other support programs. "I think the greatest impact of this partnership will be seen in future generations," said LFLA's Deputy Director, Dr. Katrice Noble. "We are changing minds. Our students and their families are learning the importance of regular health care visits and we are helping build trust in the community."
Neither improved healthcare nor education is a stand-alone remedy to poverty, disparity, and injustice-but when combined they are powerful tools making our cities better places live.