It’s an intuitive concept: kids who are healthy perform better academically. Unfortunately, there are often gaps between students’ need for health care services and their ability to access them.
To help bridge the gap, CVS Health entered into a public/private partnership to promote the development of SMART™, a school health solution focused on ensuring the wellness of every student in an educational setting. The SMART™ program is built on the proven connections between health, education, and workforce opportunity.
Breaking Tradition for Better Results
Launched in 2013, the SMART™ model distinguishes itself from traditional school-based health care in significant ways.
SMARTTM focuses on academic outcomes as its purpose and is completely integrated into the educational environment. Staff work closely with educators and school administration to ensure they support the goals and needs of the students, functioning as an integral part of the school community.
The SMART™ model deploys an “active access” strategy to deliver “active care”—employing social workers and psychologists alongside physicians, nurse practitioners, and administrators to continuously and proactively reach out to and build relationships with students. This “whole child” lens addresses not only the physical health, but also the mental health and emotional well-being of students.
SMART™’s model is culturally responsive. With the Hispanic Heritage Foundation serving as an advisor, staff work to meet the unique needs of disadvantaged students and remove stigma and barriers to health care access and foster a culture of self-care.
Success Stories in Chicago
At Sullivan High School in Chicago, The SMART™ center replaced an existing, failing school-based health clinic in 2013. Since then, the population of students that receive health care has jumped to 85-90 percent, as opposed to the 15-20 percent usually seen by traditional models—a four-fold increase. Attendance has increased remarkably: more than 90 percent of students attend school regularly, with average absenteeism dropping from 36 days per year to 18 days per year, and disciplinary referrals also plummeted.
SMART™ was built with the flexibility to fit into any school environment, early results from diverse new sites in rural Alabama, in partnership with the University of Alabama and Whatley Health Services, indicate these results are replicable and scalable in public districts across the country.
“CVS Health is proud to support the development of the SMART™ Student Health and Wellness model, which directly ties to our company’s purpose of helping people on their path to better health,” said David Casey, Chief Diversity Officer and Vice President of Workforce Strategies, CVS Health. “Through this innovative school health solution, we believe quality, accessible and cost effective care is within reach for students that need it most.”