The Healthy Students, Promising Futures Learning Collaborative serves a unique role in enhancing understanding of the current policy opportunities, challenges, and growing momentum occurring at the national and state levels to increase access to Medicaid services in schools and create safe and supportive school environments. Via both virtual and in-person mechanisms, HSPF provides tools and training that equip participants with the knowledge, connections and capacities to take concrete actions in their states and to adopt or amend state policies, including tools for strengthening cross-sector health and education partnerships, to improve student health and reduce inequities.
HSPF’s success is deeply rooted in uncovering and tapping into the strengths and assets of each team engaged in the initiative. In coalescing a diverse group of states, HSPF creates a unique opportunity for states to recognize their shared underlying challenges and solutions by establishing a space for teams to share and learn from their collective wealth of information, expertise and best practices from their years of on-the-ground experience working in school health.
Via peer-to-peer learning and skills-building, HSPF creates opportunities to develop and strengthen relationships within and between states. HSPF challenges state teams to think transformatively about the bi-directional relationship between education and health—how the education sector (schools, state education departments) is integral to health and how Medicaid (state Medicaid agencies) is integral to expanding opportunities for health in the education space; and how these systems are tied to each other’s success.
To date, over 200 individuals, including representatives from state education agencies, state Medicaid agencies, state public health agencies, school districts, and national and state organizations have participated in this work. The effort launched in July 2016 with 10 participating state teams and has since grown to 15 participating state teams.
Via both virtual and in-person mechanisms, HSPF provides training and technical assistance to support states in implementing policies that span the health and education sectors and require collaboration to implement (e.g., Medicaid free care policy reversal, state Every Student Succeeds Act accountability and report card measures, and increasing legislation and programming related to children’s mental health and school safety).
Key activities to date include:
- Seven, in-person symposia held in Washington, DC where participants received targeted technical assistance from content experts, engaged in peer-to-peer learning experiences, and interacted with federal officials and national partner organizations.
- Regular webinars and facilitated technical assistance calls for state teams and national partners.
- Engagement of key federal agencies, including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, U.S. Department of Education, Health Resources and Services Administration, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Ongoing support to state teams to assess opportunities for expanding Medicaid services in schools and establishing innovative partnerships and models.
Through this technical assistance and peer learning structure, state teams have successfully identified and overcome barriers to cooperation across state agencies and challenges to implementing new federal flexibilities in their states, including:
- Formation of new, cross-sector partnerships among state agencies, local school districts, and state/local partner organizations;
- Expansion of Medicaid services in schools for all Medicaid-eligible students (not just students with a special education plan) by increasing access to health services and providers; and
- Development of state-level guidance on key issues for the health and education systems, such as data sharing and coordination with managed care organizations.