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Transformative partnership to improve health equity and access to care for DPSCD students

For the 43% of kids in Detroit living below the federal poverty level– eight times higher than the national average – layers of obstacles prevent them accessing fundamental health care.

Unaddressed health issues often prevent children from attending school. In fact, in the 2021-2022 academic year, 68% of students at Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) missed 18 days or more of school. The pandemic only exacerbated the physical and mental health needs of kids and highlighted the barriers between the most vulnerable children and quality health care.

The Children’s Foundation knows access to care is essential to living a healthy life, which is why we recently established a transformative partnership with DPSCD. The school district is planning a multi-phase approach to bring wrap-around healthcare services to its 48,615 students by 2030; other philanthropic leaders collaborating on this initiative include Ballmer Group, Kresge Foundation, and The Kellogg Foundation.

This effort will enable centralized services for a community that often faces the most significant barriers to accessing care. Its effects will decrease the chronic absenteeism rate, improve academics, and have a profound impact on the current and future health of the whole child and community.

Connecting to a cause: Healthy Bodies Healthy Mind Endowment

To kickstart the partnership, The Foundation drew on funds from the Healthy Bodies Healthy Mind Endowment, a recently established $10.5 million permanent endowment fund and the largest gift The Children’s Foundation has received to date.

The purpose of this fund is to support projects that improve health equity and address health disparities among youth in Michigan.

With a $500,000 immediate investment into the initiative, The Foundation will enable two components of the project: buildout of a Health Hub at Central High School, as well as continuation of school nurses at five schools.

Investing in health equity: The Children’s Foundation’s partnership with DPSCD

Health Hub at Central High School

The Children’s Foundation’s funding will allow for the buildout of one of the district’s first Health Hubs which will be launched at Central High School – a top priority for the district given its central location and number of students and families it will serve.

Health Hubs will be a one-stop-shop of needs for the high school and elementary and middle schools that feed enrollment into those schools. The Health Hub concept builds on the nationally recognized and evidence-based Community Schools model, which centers schools as places where students and families can experience opportunity and growth in learning, health, economic stability.

Each Health Hub will include services addressing physical, mental, and oral health needs, after-school programs, basic needs resources, parent and caregiver engagement and services, and other resources ranging from legal aid to housing counseling.

DPSCD will establish a total of 12 Health Hubs in a phased approach over the next several years.

School Nurses & Telehealth Pilot Program

The Children’s Foundation will support school nurses at five schools. This is particularly important as Covid-19 Economic Relief, the district’s financial source for funding nurses, ended in July 2023.

School nurses not only help improve students’ physical and mental health but reduce chronic absenteeism. In the 2021-2022 academic year 76% of students who had a nurse visit were able to return to class to continue learning.

In addition to the nurse at Central High School’s Health, The Foundation will sustain nurses at four other schools: AL Holmes Academy, Earhart Elementary-Middle School, Gompers Elementary-Middle School, and Osborn High School.

Maintaining school nurses at these specific schools allows the district to continue a pilot telehealth program that enables nurses, when necessary, to initiate a virtual consultation with a live physician at student visits. If the physician prescribes medication, it will be delivered to the school or the student’s home the same day using a courier service. This reduces the burden of filling prescriptions and increases the likelihood of children receiving medication they need.

Philanthropy’s role in improving access to care

Schools are the centers of the community; innovative approaches like DPSCD’s help ensure thousands of kids and families can access services right in the neighborhoods where they live. With generous philanthropic support, this integrated plan can be implemented.

The Children’s Foundation was founded on improving the health of kids at Children’s Hospital of Michigan. Today, we serve as a catalyst for change, seeking to provide equitable opportunities for kids in our community to access the fundamental care they need to thrive. This partnership with DPSCD aligns perfectly with our past, as well as the impact we want to have on kids into the future.

When you invest in The Children’s Foundation, you can help leverage the solutions necessary to ensure our kids receive the care they need. We invite you to join us in our efforts to improve health equity and access to care for children in our region.

DPSCD Press Release

Media about this effort:

Philanthropy News Digest

Council of Michigan Foundations

CBS News Detroit

Detroit News

Chalkbeat Detroit

WXYZ Detroit

Help us improve the health and wellness of more children and families.

You can help us reach more children and families by making a gift to The Children’s Foundation. Click here to make your gift.

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