Current and Recent Projects

Current Projects

DC School Behavioral Health Community of Practice

(Department of Behavioral Health, Washington, D.C.)

CHHCS organizes and leads the DC School Behavioral Health Community of Practice, which provides a learning community to support DC’s Expansion for School Behavioral Health. 

The Center for Health and Health Care in Schools (CHHCS) provides leadership, technical assistance and professional development to a newly-established Community of Practice to support the expansion of comprehensive school behavioral health in Washington, DC. The Community of Practice aims to develop highly-effective and sustainable partnerships between schools, community-based organizations (CBOs), behavioral health service providers, youth and families, and other relevant stakeholders within the community to support the implementation of comprehensive school behavioral health systems.

Through the Community of Practice, CHHCS guides the planning and facilitation of learning sessions focused on building knowledge, skills and competencies of participating stakeholders. Working with their partners at the District of Columbia’s Department of Behavioral Health (DBH) and CRP, Inc., CHHCS will also provide technical assistance to schools and CBOs as well as access to resources through an easily-accessible database. The database will be made public so that school staff, teachers, clinicians, families and the DC Community can view resources related to this initiative.

These partnerships and knowledge-building opportunities will help school leaders, administrators, community-based organizations, and service providers, etc. to effectively implement best practices within a multi-tiered system of support (MTSS) framework that includes preventative, early intervention, and targeted supports for all students. By helping schools strengthen their tiered systems of support, CHHCS seeks to provide schools with the tools to foster positive connections to students, detect emerging problems at a faster rate, and identify which students need more tailored support so that all students are set up for success.

The work is pivotal to a city-wide initiative from the District of Columbia’s Department of Behavioral Health to expand comprehensive behavioral health systems throughout all DC public and public charter schools. These systems are designed to help increase access to behavioral health services and to support the emotional well-being of all public school students in DC.

To accomplish these efforts, CHHCS works in close partnership with DBH, DC public and public charter schools, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education and CRP, Inc.

Mental Wellness in DC

(Bainum Family Foundation)

In partnership with the Bainum Family Foundation, CHHCS works in four DC schools to build their capacity to implement and sustain a comprehensive school behavioral health system.

The Center for Health and Health Care in Schools is partnering with the Bainum Family Foundation to increase mental health supports available to children and families in Wards 7 and 8 of Washington, DC and to advance the field of school-based mental health. The strategy includes:

  • Identifying a group of three to four public charter elementary and middle schools in Wards 7 and 8 to participate in a Community of Practice. CHHCS and the Foundation will provide three years of training and technical assistance in the areas of data-driven decision making, family and community engagement, and coordinated multi-tiered systems of support (with focus on Tier 1 universal supports). Assistance will also be given for each school to implement and sustain best practices tailored to its unique needs.
  • Convening and leading a District-wide Learning Community of local school-based stakeholders (practitioners, researchers, policy makers and school administrators) to leverage existing expertise and coordinate and share resources.
  • Working with national partners—including the Center for School Mental Health at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (CSMH) and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services—to connect and convene national experts to advance comprehensive school mental health systems. The goal of these meetings is to discuss local, state and federal strategies to strengthen the availability and quality of school-based mental health services for children, youth and families. The first of a series of meetings took place in DC in September 2017.

Advancing Comprehensive School Mental Health Systems: Guidance From the Field

The Center for Health and Health Care in Schools is proud to be part of the team behind “Advancing Comprehensive School Mental Health Systems: Guidance From the Field.” The report’s insights are designed to promote positive school climate and safety, strengthen students’ social and emotional learning, and foster mental health and general well-being, while reducing the prevalence and severity of mental illness. Learn more about this collaborative effort and find the full report here.

Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network (CoIIN) on School-Based Health Services

(School-Based Health Alliance, National Center for School Mental Health, and Human Resources and Services Administration)

CHHCS is developing tools to assist School-Based Health Centers and Comprehensive School Behavioral Health Systems include Social Influencers of Health and Education (SIHE) into their practices through a continuous improvement process. 

CHHCS is working with the School-Based Health Alliance (SBHA) and the National Center for School Mental Health (NCSMH) to provide leadership and technical expertise on integrating the social determinants of health into improvement efforts of school-based health centers and comprehensive school mental health systems across the United States.

The overall project, led by SBHA and NCSMH, aims to not only increase the number of school-based health centers and comprehensive school mental health systems in the country—and the number of students served by them—but to also demonstrate their use of best practices and improved quality of care. An additional objective of the project is to increase the number of states with specific policies or programs that promote the quality, sustainability and growth of school-based health services.

CHHCS contributes to these efforts by providing technical expertise in three key areas: 1.) social determinants of health, as they relate to school-based health services promotion, prevention and treatment, 2.) financing and sustainability of school health, and 3.) addressing school needs of special populations, such as refugees and immigrants.

Members of CHHCS staff also serve as subject-matter experts during monthly learning sessions to help build states’ capacities to address factors that impede student health and academic success. CHHCS also supports the development of peer-reviewed publications and resources and their dissemination.

Evaluation of UpPotential's Youth Caring Program

(UpPotential, Hong Kong)

CHHCS is working with UpPotential to develop and implement a monitoring and evaluation plan for UpPotential’s Youth Caring Program, based in Hong Kong.

UpPotential provides culturally-adapted and research-based information, resources, and life skills training to enable individuals—regardless of age, gender, or ethnicity—to lead a healthy and constructive life. The Youth Caring Program (YCP), based in Hong Kong, helps students learn to manage stress and increase resilience to enhance mental wellness awareness, and we believe self-help skills can become a caring act for oneself and others. YCP incorporates cultural and research-based programs through online training in the school environment.

The Center for Health and Health Care in Schools (CHHCS) is working with UpPotential to develop and implement a monitoring and evaluation plan for UpPotential. UpPotential is seeking guidance on designing a mixed-methods evaluation to understand the effectiveness of the program. This evaluation will help to understand the strengths of the program and areas that can be improved. In addition, UpPotential is seeking to use the evaluation results to obtain public and private funding to scale the program.

Recent Projects

Exploration of School-Based Wellbeing in the United States

(Cross-Disciplinary Research Fund of the George Washington University)

Working with the GW School of Education and Human Development, CHHCS conducted research to better understand how teachers and school leaders define “wellness.”

Together with GW’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development, CHHCS worked to revise and develop new models for understanding wellness in schools. Funded by the Cross-Disciplinary Research Fund of the George Washington University, the project aimed to:

  1. Develop a novel, comprehensive framework of a construct termed “school-based wellbeing” for schools in the United States
  2. Identify characteristics of “well schools” and provide an analysis of current levels of wellness (as reported by educators)

These aims were accomplished by using a mixed methods research design, which integrates the collection of both qualitative data (focus groups and interviews) and quantitative data (surveys). Research participants included schools from the Washington, DC and several other metropolitan areas to ensure a sampling from diverse school systems and participants.

The findings from this research resulted in new knowledge, supporting the development of a new model and framework for examining school-based wellbeing. The development and dissemination of this model will help to drive theory and provide a significant framework for the fields of education, public health, educational leadership, psychology and teacher preparation.

Establishment of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute at Children's National

(National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences)

CHHCS led the team that works on recruitment and retention for the GWU and Children’s National Hospital Clinical and Translational Science Institute with NIH.

CHHCS led the Liaison to Recruitment Innovation Centers (LRIC) module for the CTSI-CN, a partnership between Children’s National and The George Washington University (GW) to establish the Clinical and Translational Science Institute at Children’s National (CTSI-CN). Funded by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), the CTSI-CN offers unique resources in translating discovery to improved health, its vision is to promote innovations that speed the translation of research into improved child, family, and community health.

As the LRIC module lead, CHHCS guided the development of resources for recruitment best practices and designing the work flow for how recruitment integrates with study development and implementation. The LRIC also conducted a survey of participants at GW and Children’s National to learn about the recruitment resources they need to be successful and created an innovative program to have GW public health students design social marketing campaigns to recruit patients for trials.

Supporting the Implementation of Comprehensive School-Based Mental Health in DC

(The Alexander and Margaret Stewart Trust)

CHHCS conducted interviews with key education and behavioral health leaders in DC and developed a resource for principals and other education leaders in the District of Columbia (DC) to highlight prominent school behavioral health frameworks being promoted to DC public and public charter schools. 

With funding from the Alexander and Margaret Stewart Trust, CHHCS developed a resource for principals and other education leaders in the District of Columbia (DC) which provides an overview of the prominent school behavioral health frameworks being promoted to DC public and public charter schools. The frameworks were identified through interviews with key education and behavioral health leaders in DC. The final document includes basic definitions, main components and features, implementation considerations, and additional resources for each of the six identified frameworks, as well as information on their differences and similarities and how they complement each other. Two short case studies from DC that demonstrate how schools can successfully integrate two or more frameworks and brief summaries of some of the other popular programs and approaches are also included.

These efforts included the following components:

  • Conducting interviews with key informants from Washington, DC schools about effective practices for success
  • Collecting and synthesizing information on empirical research and best practices for the implementation of the identified behavioral health frameworks
  • Identifying schools that are successfully integrating two or more frameworks and conducting interviews with them to learn about their process, successes, challenges, and lessons learned
  • Developing a practice tool/guide that combines national best practices and qualitative research findings to support schools interested in adapting their student support approaches

DC Project AWARE Evaluation and Technical Assistance

(Barrow Consulting Services)

CHHCS staff and associated faculty at GW worked with the District of Columbia Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) to evaluate efforts in Year 1 of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Project AWARE grant. DC’s Project AWARE program will leverage and build upon the District’s Comprehensive School Mental Health Plan to build an integrated service delivery model reaching at least 11,000 youth, implement comprehensive training opportunities reaching at least 1,500 educators and administrators, and engage the voices of youth and families in evidence-based, culturally-responsive and developmentally-appropriate mental health infrastructure design and implementation.

CHHCS/GW led data and evaluation activities, monitors outcomes, and ensures ongoing quality improvement to fulfill grant obligations.

The goal of the evaluation was to describe short-term outcomes associated with Project AWARE, including the design and administration of a survey of students’ self-reported access to a trusted adult and knowledge of campus safety net team members.

Specific activities also included:

  • Developing an evaluation workplan
  • Developing protocols and tools for data collection
  • Participation in regular meetings with project partners
  • Leading data, evaluation and technical assistance activities around student referral processes
  • Analyzing and synthesizing evaluation data

Consultation was provided to Barrow Consulting Services; partners also include the Division of Health and Wellness of the District of Columbia Office of the State Superintendent of Education, and the Coordinating Council on School Mental Health, Data/Evaluation and Implementation subcommittees.