Strengthening School Partnerships through the School-Friendly Health Systems Learning Collaborative

June 21, 2024 by Julia DeAngelo, MPH & Alicia Bowyer, MPH

Concepts that have been presented have helped conceptually frame my collaboration building efforts. My hope is to engage [our] partners in implementing elements of the School-Friendly Health Systems framework.” – Chat and Chew Attendee

Children’s National and RESOLVE, a Washington, D.C.– based nonprofit specializing in collaborative process, launched a school-friendly health systems (SFHS) Learning Collaborative in 2022, a national cohort of hospitals, health systems and health clinics who are piloting the SFHS framework, putting the principles into practice. Children’s National released the five SFHS principles initially in 2021, and then in 2023 along with case examples on how the principles and accompanying practices are being applied, with seven children’s hospitals and a community health center across the country. The goal of this initiative is to help hospitals and health systems deliver better care and patient experience that enhance children’s prospects for improved health and academic success.

Between December 2023 and May 2024, Children’s National partnered with Children’s Mercy Kansas City to facilitate a six-part monthly virtual SFHS Learning Collaborative meeting series. The hosting organizations are part of the SFHS Learning Collaborate along with five other children’s hospitals who contributed as presenters and supporters. Meeting topics highlighted innovative health and education supporting initiatives that aligned with one or more of the SFHS principles.

Who attended: SFHS Learning Collaborative members and other partners that manage or provide health care services or programs in school settings (i.e. professional role areas such as clinical care, administration, family support, advocacy, and research).

9 Speakers from 7 organizations:

  • Children’s Hospital of Orange County
  • Children’s Wisconsin
  • Healthy Schools Campaign
  • Children’s National Hospital
  • EdNavigator
  • Nationwide Children’s
  • Children’s Mercy Kansas City

162 attendees from 26 organizations participated in the series:

  • Alliance for a Healthier Generation
  • Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
  • Children’s Hospital Association
  • Children’s Hospital of Orange County
  • Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
  • Children’s Mercy Kansas City
  • Children’s Minnesota
  • Children’s National Hospital
  • Children’s Nebraska
  • Children’s Wisconsin
  • Cincinnati Children’s Hospital
  • Covering Kids & Families of Indiana
  • Delaware School Nurse
  • DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education
  • George Washington University School of Public Health
  • Lewis and Clark Information Exchange (Greater Kansas City Area)
  • Nationwide Children’s Hospital
  • Show Me KC Schools
  • Luke’s Children’s Hospital
  • Texas Children’s Hospital
  • Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
  • UW Health American Family Children’s Hospital
  • University of Vermont Children’s Hospital
  • Vermont Department of Health

Children’s National also contributed to the meeting series by presenting with EdNavigator, an organization that partners with health care providers to provide referral-based support to families grappling with education challenges. Dr. Sarah Durrin, a pediatrician at the Children’s National Columbia Heights clinic and Nelida Garcia, Director of Partnerships and Outreach at EdNavigator shared on the program’s approach to bridging the gap between the school and health care settings, and shared metrics on program success.

Children’s hospitals are leading diverse, innovative school health and academic supporting initiatives and benefit from this peer community to share challenges and discuss best practices for engaging school districts and families. Looking ahead, the SFHS Learning Collaborative will be presenting two sessions at the American School Health Association 2024 conference and plans to reconvene members to develop additional tools and resources to help hospitals and health care systems implement the five SFHS principles and practices in their communities.

Please connect with us at to join our SFHS Learning Collaborative and learn more about this initiative.

Header image by Daria Shevtsova on Unsplash

About the author

Julia DeAngelo, MPH

Program Manager for School Strategies within the Child Health Advocacy Institute at Children's National Hospital

Alicia Bowyer, MPH

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