Successful implementation of a Community Partnership School takes a great deal of thought, planning and commitment to create and sustain a successful implementation. The Children’s Aid Society of New York has identified four “Stages of Development in a Community School”: Exploring, Emerging, Maturing and Excelling.
This stage entails large-scale thinking, high energy, optimism and a certain amount of “if only” thinking. This stage also includes the identification of a particular school or schools and who is willing to commit long term as core partners in the effort. We believe that essential core partners include the school district, a college or university, a lead not-for-profit organization and a health care partner, preferably a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC).
At some point the partners will be identified, the location selected and commitments to the partnership secured. At this stage an initial community assessment helps determine the initial program design, and a decision is made to start the transformation of a school by introducing some services, securing initial funding and establishing an effective structure for governance, communication, definition of roles and responsibilities, and building in an effective responsiveness to documented needs.
At this stage the community school develops a more comprehensive range of services and activities and begins to function better. Improvements are recognized and internal and external support is stronger. Utilization of available services increases, the relationship between the school and its community partners deepens, and the working relationships become more natural as all partners come to realize that this work requires continuous and significant effort. A “culture of yes” develops where the partners work until a solution is reached for any obstacle or roadblock.
At this stage the community school comprises a wide range of quality programs that are fully integrated into the school. There is a school culture that focuses on addressing the needs of the whole child. There is significant parental engagement in the school. The entire school staff and surrounding community values the partnerships that have helped transform the school.