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Integrated Support Systems

All children need support and opportunity. They have unique needs, interests, and assets to build upon, as well as areas of vulnerability to strengthen without stigma or shame. To support youth and their varied needs, learning environments should be designed to include protective factors, including health, mental health, and social service supports, as well as opportunities to extend learning and build on interests and passions. Comprehensive and integrated supports bolster student learning and development, particularly when they are implemented in collaborative, culturally responsive, and coordinated ways.

What Can Schools Do to Create Integrated Support Systems?

Adopt structures that incorporate universal and tiered supports, which include:

  • Assessments that help educators understand student wellness and progress and the supports students need;
  • Availability of high-quality tutoring and mentoring, counseling, and student support teams;
  • Additional before, during, and after-school time for expanded learning, along with summer programs or Acceleration Academies during intersessions; and
  • Health, mental health, and community partnerships with social service providers, including community school models.

Adopt practices that enable these structures to be effective, which include:

  • Strategies and practices that ensure collaboration, coordination, and shared developmental approaches across providers of services; and
  • Approaches that are culturally competent, carefully integrated, and age appropriate, considering students holistically and with an assets-based lens.