Rebecca Wells, Ph.D.

Rebecca Wells, Ph.D.

Parents of at-risk youth often struggle with how best to help their children succeed, and maneuvering through the various relevant service providers can be overwhelming at best. The impact schools may have on success is the focus of an upcoming study involving the Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC) School of Rural Public Health.

“Implementing a Case Management Initiative in High-Need Schools” by Professor Rebecca Wells, Ph.D., lead researcher, will be published in Children and Youth Services Review and available online in March.

As the single place outside the home where children spend the most time, schools are well positioned to facilitate child-centered planning. However, schools generally have not brought together all of the professionals involved with a child they are serving into a single team as partners with their family.

A recent study of 71 public schools across North Carolina where children and family support teams were implemented yielded mixed results. Analysis focused on the ways that a team approach had been successful, where there are areas of weakness and how implementation of such strategies evolved over time.

North Carolina has supported team approaches in many aspects, according to Dr. Wells. However, service providers often are not paid for time staff spend coordinating with other providers. Regulations also often prohibit use of a single plan for children with complex needs.

“States continue to experiment with ways of improving health and human service use by people with complex needs,” Dr. Wells said. “Such efforts have often sought to increase individual and family control over services, as well as to enhance coordination among providers.”

Findings from studies such as this one are relevant to health care because academic difficulties often have health-related origins and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act focuses attention on person-centered care.

— Rae Lynn Mitchell

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