School Health

  • Access to education and safe and supportive school environments have been linked to better health outcomes. In turn, good health is linked to reduced drop-out rates and greater educational attainment, educational performance, employment, and productivity.
  • CDC has some great resources around Adolescent and School Health
  • Under Illinois law, health care services can broadly all into two categories; primary care services and confidential services. Most young people under the age of 18 need a parent or guardian to consent to primary health care services (i.e., school physicals, strep throat).
    • We say ‘most’ as there are some exceptions. If young people under age 18 are married, pregnant, or parenting, they can legally self-consent to primary care. If young people are aged 14 and up and living separately from their parent or guardian, they may also self-consent to primary care.
      • There are additional considerations for scenarios like these, so see the section on ‘Youth in Temporary Living Situations’ below for more information.
    • In the state of Illinois, there are a number of confidential services that young people (over the age of 12) can access without parental consent. These include: birth control, abortion, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV, care following a sexual assault, mental health counseling, and substance use treatment.
  • The Bureau of Maternal, Infant, Child and Adolescent Health (MICAH) works within CDPH to support many of the services and supports to schools. Part of that work is curating this website to provide resources to support schools around some key subjects:

Data Driven Needs

  • Public health uses data to support priorities and policy decisions. When it comes to school health in Chicago, we look at a few key resources. 
    • Chicago Health Atlas
      • The Chicago Department of Public Health and PHAME Center at UIC believe data should be accurate, transparent and easy to understand. They created it so that you can review, explore and compare health-related data over time and across communities. In addition, the Chicago Health Atlas provides a place for residents to see our progress implementing Healthy Chicago, the citywide plan to improve health equity.
      • This data to both better understand health in Chicago and identify opportunities to improve health and well-being. The Chicago Health Atlas is, by design, an evolving tool. Through new partnerships, improved data and continuous updates to the site, we will be better equipped to understand and improve our city’s health.
      • Chicago Health Atlas
    • Youth Behavioral Risk Survey (YRBS)
      • The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) monitors six categories of health-related behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of death and disability among youth and adults, including—
        • Behaviors that contribute to unintentional injuries and violence
        • Sexual behaviors related to unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV infection
        • Alcohol and other drug use
        • Tobacco use
        • Unhealthy dietary behaviors
        • Inadequate physical activity
      • YRBSS also measures the prevalence of obesity and asthma and other health-related behaviors plus sexual identity and sex of sexual contacts.
      • YRBSS | Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System
    • School Health Profiles
      • Profiles data is meant to be used by leaders and decision makers, especially in schools, school districts, and state education agencies to understand the gaps in policies and practices that can impact student health and academic performance. Identifying gaps in school health policies and practices supports local discussions and decisions about needed changes and monitors those changes over time. 
      • Used with CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance (YRBS) data, Profiles data can provide a powerful approach for decision makers to monitor the impact of their decisions over time.
      • School Health Profiles | Data | Adolescent and School Health | CDC
    • Healthy CPS
      • At Chicago Public Schools, Healthy CPS is an Office of Student Health and Wellness initiative that seeks to eliminate health-related barriers by providing schools with guidance and support to adhere to state and district health and wellness policies. 
        • Healthy CPS streamlines these policies into four badges: Health Leadership, Health Instruction, Healthy Environments, and Health Services.
      • Healthy CPS encourages collaboration in creating a sustainable school culture of health and wellness and advocates for meaningful inclusion of staff, students, parents and caregivers, and community voice in school efforts to achieve Healthy CPS.
      • Healthy CPS

Early Childhood

Higher Education

  • Healthy People 2030 calls out key areas of focus; enrollment in Higher Education is a key issue in the Education Access and Quality domain. 
  • Higher Education institutions serve a unique population but are impacted by communicable diseases in different ways than early childhood and K-12 school settings. CDPH has created broad communicable disease guidance, which can be reviewed here. This guidance will call out specific situations where High Education institutions may need to different actions.   
  • The need and impact of student mental health carries throughout the lifespan. Please visit our Behavioral Health page to learn more about with CDPH offers. 
  • Establishing Primary Care is vital to long term health. Connecting students to quality patient centered primary is an important message to amplify. 
    • You can Find a Health Center - HRSA
    • CDPH hosts a digital directory where you can find a clinic and other resources. You can search by zip code, category, or keyword. 
  • Sexual Health
    • Condoms4Schools
    • CDPH provides condoms to schools at no cost. Condoms should be made freely available for students to take (i.e., in a bowl in the student union or health center). 
      • Email condoms4schools@cityofchicago.org for more information. 
      • CDPH and CPS have created a toolkit to assist schools with implementing condom availability programs, which can be found here. Though it was designed with middle and high school settings in mind, the information contained in the toolkit is still relevant to students and staff in higher education. 
      • CDC Condom Availability Programs (CAPs)
    • CHAT Program
      • Visit our youth sexual health education website here. It includes a presentation about the mechanics and importance of STI testing under the 'What's CHAT?' tab). The site contains information on STIs, pregnancy, anatomy (body basics), LGBTQ+ and allyship matters, safe/unsafe relationships, and links to other resources/clinical services.

Youth Living in Temporary Living Situations

  • The City of Chicago is committed to empowering the city’s youth with an educational environment primed with dignity and respect. 
    • This pledge aims to safeguard the educational rights of students in a temporary living situation, youth, and youth not living with a parent or guardian, as it applies to all services, programs, and activities.
  • Impact 
    • Homeless students experience greater school mobility than their non-homeless peers. School mobility can cause interruptions to a child’s education and is associated with lower school achievement and increased risk of dropping out of school. Homeless students are at a greater risk of being chronically absent than their non-homeless peers. Chronic absenteeism is associated with lower academic achievement and higher dropout rates. Homeless students face significant gaps in high school graduation rates compared to their peers, according to data from the States that disaggregate graduation rates for homeless youths. 
    • Some 1.5 million elementary and high school students nationally experience homelessness. In Chicago alone, nearly 18,000 students lack a stable place to call home. Despite students’ aspirations, their GPAs, attendance rates, and graduation rates lag those of similar students who are not experiencing homelessness. With the advent of remote learning during the pandemic, the gaps between stably housed and unstably housed children could widen even further. This has significant implications for racial equity given that 85 percent of students experiencing homelessness in Chicago identify as Black.
  • Scope 
    • Children and youth are homeless when they lack a fixed, regular, and adequate night-time place of residence, including those who are:
      • sharing housing of other persons due to the loss of housing, economic hardship, or similar reason (sometimes referred to as “doubled up”). 
      • living in a motel, hotel, trailer park or camping ground due to lack of alternative, adequate accommodations. 
      • living in an emergency or transitional shelter. 
      • living in a car, park, public place, abandoned building, substandard housing, bus or train station or similar setting. 
      • having a primary nighttime residence that is a private or public space not designated or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation. 
      • abandoned in a hospital. 
      • migratory children living in any of the circumstances described above
  • Identification
    • Identification is the first step to connecting students experiencing homelessness or unstable housing situations with the information, resources, and supports necessary to promote and ensure stability and access to an education.
      • Strategies for identifying students:
      • Raise awareness
      • Conduct community assessments
      • Provide targeted outreach
      • Establish liaison program within facility
    • How to help identify students who may be eligible?
      • Avoid using the word “homeless” with students, parents, or colleagues, as it evokes stereotypes that do not match the reality of most young people who have lost their homes. 
      • Share information about the McKinney-Vento Act and homelessness with colleagues.
        • The McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act ensures the educational rights and protections of homeless children and youth so that they may enroll in school, attend regularly, and be successful. Review ISBE’s website to learn about specific requirements for schools: McKinney-Vento Education for Homeless Children
      • Put up a poster about the McKinney-Vento Act in your office. Posters are available at no cost here
      • Make it a part of your routine to talk to youth about the services for youth who have left home. The students who meet the definition may surprise you.
      • Exercise sensitivity when talking with youth and parents, who often are afraid to identify themselves as homeless due to fears of stigma or negative repercussions. When talking with students, advise them of your obligations as a mandated reporter at the outset of the conversation.
      • Keep hygiene supplies, bus passes or other important supplies on hand for students who need them. This can spark dialogue and trust.
      • Ask students for help. Youth can share information by word of mouth, using web-based social networking, and posting outreach materials where their peers will see them.
      • Reach out to unaccompanied youth by contacting street outreach teams, drop-in centers, and youth shelters, and by working to build trust with young people.
  • LINKS: 
  • Resources
  • PROGRAM CONTACT INFORMATION:

School Health

Schools are essential for young people to acquire knowledge, socioemotional skills including self-regulation and resilience, and critical thinking skills that provide the foundation for a healthy future. Learn about high quality resources around data and special populations on this page. 

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