Member states were asked to answer the following question:
What tips or tools do you have for state health agency employees interested in working with state education agency folks?
Education Specialist, Teaching and Learning Support, Department of Education and Early Development
Adolescent Health Program Manager, Division of Public Health, Department of Health and Social Services
In January 2008, Alaska was fortunate to participate in a National Stakeholders’ Meeting in New Orleans, LA. Representatives from the Department of Health and Social Services (Division of Public Health, Sections of Epidemiology and Women’s Children’s and Family Health), The Department of Education and Early Development (Teaching & Learning Support) and the Anchorage School District were in attendance. The event assisted in clarifying and communicating the health-related responsibilities within each agency; building relationships between the two departments; and solidified solid action plans to improve on-going communication and ultimately services to Alaskans.
Since then, the collaboration has grown- the Division of Public Health is now playing a critical role in helping the Department of Education and Early Development design the student health and safety component of the State Education Plan. This collaboration was able to grow and include our Sections of Chronic Diseases and Behavioral Health because members of the two departments wanted to work jointly for the well-being of Alaskan students. In addition, we are co-planning an Institute for School Health and Wellness.
The cross department relationship has been very successful for several reasons. The departments share the common goal of wanting to promote student health and safety. The bulk of our work together is focused around the fact that healthy and safe children learn better. We follow a coordinated school health model, which helps us keep our focus.
We would recommend that state health agencies interested in working with state education agencies identify and contact their counterparts, and begin a dialogue. They can start by finding common goals, and then look for ways to work together towards achieving these goals.
Interdepartmental Collaboration around Coordinated School Health Programs
Supervisor, Coordinated School Health and Safety Programs, Michigan Department of Education
Coordinated School Health Consultant, Michigan Department of Community Health
Adolescent & School Health Manager, Michigan Department of Community Health
Coordinated School Health Education Consultant, Michigan Department of Education
The Michigan Departments of Health and Education have built an effective partnership around efforts to advance Coordinated School Health Programs across Michigan. Coordinated school health is centered on approaching school health without turf or silos within school districts and buildings. Our departments strive to lead by example. We approach our work as a joint effort. The foundation to making this joint effort successful is communication. Through regular communication we keep each other informed and involved. Interagency School Health Team meetings give us the opportunity to not only share information but also network and partner on various projects. Such partnering greatly increases the scope of our projects and allows us to leverage limited resources to reach more students and families. In addition to regularly scheduled meetings, we communicate daily through email to share updates, gather input, or pass along information. Communication with external partners is also a shared effort with presentations at external meetings or conferences led by staff from both departments. This focus on communication and partnership enables movement away from initiatives being led by one department toward shared leadership. While funding for a project may pass through one department, we don’t believe the other department should be less involved or less responsible for administration of our joint ventures. Those of us working on school health highly value the relationships we have built and are determined to use these positive relationships to further the goal that we all share: healthy, successful students.