Schools and hospitals can be strong partners in improving and maintaining children’s health. Many hospitals have established partnerships with local school districts to support students in reaching their optimal health and academic goals. Hospitals have the capacity to support students and provide social services.  A hospital may also be able to provide support with a variety of health initiatives impacting students such as chronic conditions, behavioral and/or mental health, nutrition support, or reproductive health services.

Partnerships Between Health Care and Schools

Ways in which schools and hospitals partner include but are not limited to the following
(from the National Association of Chronic Directors,Opportunities for School and Hospital Partnership in Management of Chronic Health Conditions):

  • School nurse and physician staffing and provision of health care services in schools and school-based health centers
  • Case management services
  • Delivery of evidence-based programs
  • Professional development and training for school personnel
  • Interdisciplinary networking opportunities and forums
  • Access to electronic health records for children shared by schools and hospitals
  • Funding and research opportunities
  • Developing joint plans and activities in response to children’s health needs
  • Addressing health inequities and population health needs

Benefits of Health Care and Schools Partnerships

Benefits for Hospital Systems

  • Care coordination for students, which can lead to the development of collaborative health plans
    • Give the patient a better quality of life
  • Access to an adult population that has a strong influence in children’s overall health and well-being
    • Could lead to improving the overall of both adults and children
  • Opportunity to have a role in improving the health and economic conditions in the community
  • Data collection to help understand population health needs and risk factors
  • Reduced duplication of services
  • Increase opportunities to address health inequities seen in the clinical setting

Benefits for Schools

  • Care coordination for students, which can lead to the development of collaborative health plans
    • Can lead to less student absences due to illness or medical appointments
  • Strengthen health education
    • The hospital can work with the school district on incorporating important health-related topics into the curriculum
  • Supplement school health services, including school nursing capacity and telehealth initiatives
    • Increasing in-seat instructional time
  • Assist districts in making informed decisions on school nurse staffing needs or possibly provide direct staff support
  • Improved management of students’ chronic health conditions
  • Improved student health outcomes which can contribute to improved educational outcomes
  • Improved disaster preparedness support
  • Health equity for students

Healthcare and School Partnership Successes

There have been many successful partnerships between healthcare systems and schools, including:

School-Based Health Centers

School-based health centers (SBHCs) can be an entry point for hospitals to engage and begin working with schools. A SBHC is a shared commitment between a school district and sponsor organization to support students’ health, well-being, and academic success. SBHCs provide a space for onsite health care professionals to collaborate with schools on the health and well-being of their students.

For more information on SBHCs:

The Pediatrician’s Role


Pediatricians have a long-standing history working with schools and supporting health care delivery. Pediatricians and other pediatric health care providers can foster partnerships between health care and schools by:

  • Serving as a champion within the health system to develop or improve partnerships with schools in the community
  • Convening and facilitating dialogue between the health and education sectors
  • Assessing community resources and providing guidance on accessing services
  • Participating as part of the care coordination team

Additional Resources

Hallways to Health: Creating a Schhol-wide Culture of Wellness
This toolkit from School- Based Health Alliance outlines best practices for creating a school-wide culture of wellness. Topics range from engaging school partners, to building a wellness team, engaging parents, and creating and implementing an action plan. Readers also have the option of looking through stories in the field to see how the toolkit functions in real life examples.

Building Sustainable Health and Education Partnerships: Stories from Local Communities (Journal of School Health)
This article details the importance of schools forming relationships with partners across multiple domains to address health disparities by providing opportunities and services that promote health development of children and adolescents.

Advancing Education and Health Through the Community Schools Strategy
(National League of Cities)
This resource from the National League of Cities the impetus for action, the intersection between education and health, city-level opportunities to improve education and health outcomes, city spotlights and strategies for changing the health landscape.

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American Academy of Pediatrics