Recognizing efforts of health care providers to address chronic absenteeism through school collaboration

August 28, 2023 by Alicia Bowyer, MPH

The impact of Collaborative for Attendance Resources in Education & Health (CARE-H) Program at Children’s National, formerly the Chronic Absenteeism Reduction Effort (CARE),  continues to draw interest, recognition and plan for expansion. From nationally published articles to conference presentations, the first half of 2023 contained opportunities to share promising outcomes to date since the program launched in 2019. 

Notably, the Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) published an article, Using School Attendance Data to Improve Health Outcomes, highlighting the program, partnerships, and promising early findings. The article explains how the CARE-H program, built on a partnership between DC Public Schools (DCPS) and Children’s National, utilizes attendance data sharing with patient providers to increase proactive support to families. The article highlights that this includes sharing supports from behavioral health to community resources and quotes the CARE-H team in acknowledging that the program is made possible through its interdisciplinary team and the trust built between patients and families.   

On June 22, Children’s National leaders, Drs. Danielle Dooley and Jaytoya Manget, presented Every Day Counts: Building School and Data-Sharing Partnerships to Support School Attendance in Your Community alongside representatives from Trenton Health Team (New Jersey) and Nemours Children’s Health (Delaware) at the 97th American School Health Association virtual conference. The session was a panel discussion on the epidemic of chronic school absenteeism and provided an opportunity to share the CARE-H program with a large variety of school and healthcare professionals. 

The team and partners had the opportunity to give this presentation at the School-Based Health Alliance Conference at American University Washington College of Law on June 27th. Over 140 attendees with vested interest in school health engaged with this session, and many shared that they are looking to replicate efforts in their jurisdictions. 

As school absenteeism remains an issue for schools and families during COVID-19 recovery efforts, exposure such as this for the program opens doors for other health care systems and school districts to collaborate and continue to better support young people and their families. 

What is Next for CARE-H? 

For the upcoming 2023/2024 school year, the CARE-H program will be all DC public schools! Starting with an original cohort of 6 schools – 4 elementary, and 2 middle/high schools, and growing to 14 schools, the continued expansion this school year to all DCPS schools is just one of the programs’ many successes.  

Want to Know What Students Think About School Absenteeism? 

Check out School Absenteeism from the High Schooler’s Perspective, another CHAI blog post written by CARE-H Program Coordinator Bianca Constant, LSW, and Rosy Chacon, BS.


Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

About the author

Alicia Bowyer, MPH

Community Education Specialistwithin the Child Health Advocacy Institute at Children's National Hospital