Community Partnership Schools
The Community Partnership Schools™ Model Community School
In January of 2009, the president of the Children’s Home Society of Florida joined leaders from UCF — the dean of the College of Health and Public Affairs, the dean of the College of Education, and the director of the Center for Community Partnerships — to visit the Children’s Aid Society of New York’s community schools. They returned to Florida committed to seek out an opportunity to develop a community school in Central Florida.
Following numerous discussions with Central Florida school districts, school principals, hospitals, health care providers and funders, a willing partner was found in the Orange County Public School system. Interest centered on Maynard Evans High School in the Pine Hills area of Orlando.
In 2010, following much discussion and planning, UCF, the Children’s Home Society of Florida and Orange County Public Schools signed a 25-year Memorandum of Understanding to establish a partnership to develop and implement community schools in Orange County. Two years later they were joined by an additional core partner, Central Florida Family Health Center, a federally qualified health center (FQHC).
This partnership resulted in the development of Evans High School • A Community Partnership School in Pine Hills. The Pine Hills community has a population of approximately 70,500 within 24,300 households. The unemployment rate in 2011 was 10.5% and the median household income was $40,013. At the time, Evans was under a Florida Department of Education school improvement plan. A few years earlier it was listed in a national publication as a “double F dropout factory.”
The core partners began an implementation based upon the Children’s Aid Society of New York’s Community School model focused on a strong academic program supported by a wide range of after-school activities for students and the community; access to physical, behavioral and dental health services on site; and a strong parent engagement program. However, the Evans model also involved a much greater role and partnership with UCF, similar to the University Assisted Community School approach at the University of Pennsylvania. UCF has committed resources across many programs including nursing, education, behavioral health and medicine to the partnership.
By the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year, Evans High School • A Community Partnership School was offering on-site physical and behavioral health services for all students and their families, and the faculty. Dental care also was added during the school year with the opening an on-site wellness cottage. Evans offers a parent resource room and outreach program, and on-site access to public assistance for eligible families. Students have access to a robust after-school tutoring program; enrichment activities and resources to address food insecurity, including a food pantry; snack cabinets; and periodic community food distributions.
The Community Partnership Schools™ model involves the forming of a long-term partnership among a lead social service agency, school, university or college, and a health care provider. This comprehensive model emphasizes leveraging the combined social and institutional capital of the partners to offer resources and services to address the needs that have been identified by the community.
When the University of Central Florida, Children’s Home Society, and Orange County Public Schools joined together to design and implement a unique community school strategy at Evans High School in Orlando, there was no way to guarantee the positive outcomes that would later be realized by the students and local community. The core partners began implementation based on the model set by Children’s Aid Society, which prioritizes a rich instructional program and student academic achievement; however, the engagement of a college/university integrates key aspects of the University-Assisted model. Health and wellness services offered by a Community Partnership School— made possible by engaging a healthcare provider as core partner—supports student wellbeing and daily attendance. Additional available supports, such as clothing, meals, increased parental involvement, academic enrichment and tutoring, release teachers and administrators to focus on academics. The objective is to meet the social, emotional, mental, physical, nutritional, and sometimes financial needs of students so that they are ready and able to fully engage in the rigorous academic opportunities offered by their school.