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Journal Issue: School-Linked Services Volume 2 Number 1 Spring 1992

Richard E. Behrman


No thoughtful person would dispute that one's productivity and prosperity as an adult are founded to a significant degree on one's education as a child. However, the schooling of many children is significantly compromised by health and social problems that require services beyond what their parents are able to provide.

Coordination or provision of some of these nonacademic services is presently based in the schools; other services are provided elsewhere in communities. Still other needs are going unmet. Because a number of these noneducational services are vital to enabling children to pursue their education, closer ties between schools and providers of these services are being considered or implemented in many areas of the country. The huge size and diversity of the public education system, the great variety of service programs and the many ways they have been structured and funded, and the almost infinite variations in the needs of particular children and their families make forging these ties a formidable challenge.

To develop sound public policy in building institutional relationships among diverse service programs requires analysis from a number of different perspectives. In keeping with our journal's major goal—to focus comprehensive and multidisciplinary discussion on the development of important policies affecting children—we are devoting this second issue to a discussion of school-linked services.

The article contributed by David Tyack, an education historian at Stanford University, reminds us that, since the turn of the century, public schools in the United States have been responsible for providing a mixture of educational and noneducational services. Numerous efforts have tried to improve these services. Professor Tyack focuses on what past reform efforts can teach and what the lessons imply for current proposals, such as the voucher plan for increased choice.

William Morrill is CEO of MathTech, Inc. of Princeton, New Jersey, where he is developing a national Resource Center on Community-based Service Integration. He compares, in qualitative and quantitative terms, the current dimensions and structure of the education, health, and social service systems in relation to the needs of children. Morrill focuses on how differences in organization structure, administration, professional culture, and funding among these systems may adversely affect the delivery of coordinated services, and he explores possible solutions involving school-linked services.

Selected examples of school-linked services are presented by Janet Levy, director of Joining Forces, a national initiative to facilitate collaboration between schools and social services agencies, and by Bill Shepardson, project associate of the Council of Chief State School Officers. Levy and Shepardson review and compare six programs from very different regions of the country and extract several elements that seem important for efforts to integrate services.

Frank Farrow and Tom Joe of The Center for the Study of Social Policy in Washington, D.C., analyze current patterns of financing services for children. The authors address key issues that local and state administrators face in attempting to finance new relationships between the schools and the agencies providing noneducational services to young people. They review potential funding sources, the barriers imposed by current financing, and long-range funding strategies.

A summary and an analysis of efforts to evaluate programs linking schools and providers of noneducational services are provided by Deanna Gomby, who is responsible for the child development division at the Center for the Future of Children, and Carol Larson, who is responsible for the law and public policy division at the Center. Interested readers may request from the Center a separate, comprehensive literature review and a detailed monograph on program evaluation.

Following Gomby and Larson's analysis, Sidney Gardner identifies the key issues involved in developing school-linked services in a community. These issues include planning, targeting, governance, information systems, and staffing. Gardner is co-director of California Tomorrow's Youth at Risk project and serves on the faculty of the School of Social Work at the University of Southern California and also at California State University, Fullerton.

What school leadership and staff must do to prepare for school-linked services is described in the article by Jeanne Jehl and Michael Kirst. The former is an administrator on special assignment in the San Diego City Unified School District and co-chair of the council for the New Beginnings project. The latter author is professor of education at Stanford University and co-director of Policy Analysis for California Education.

Robert Chaskin, research associate at The Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago, and Harold Richman, professor and director of The Chapin Hall Center, question the wisdom of a policy that promotes the school as the key site for providing or coordinating health and social services. They argue that a community-based model may better serve the needs of some children.

Current activities and plans at the federal level are presented by Martin Gerry, Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Nicholas Certo, executive assistant to the Assistant Secretary. They review the administration's philosophy and strategy on integrated service efforts and summarize the current service integration initiatives by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Education.

In addition to these articles, the staff at the Center for the Future of Children—after considering the views expressed by the preceding authors, reviewing the literature, and conversing with many leaders in relevant fields—presents a critical analysis of the issues involved in developing school-linked services. As part of the analysis, the staff identifies emerging criteria for developing school-linked service programs and discusses six critical issues that must receive greater attention when implementing the school-linked approach.