Education has a strong and lasting impact on health. Higher educational attainment is associated with positive health outcomes, increased health literacy and longer life expectancy.1,2 People with lower educational attainment are more likely to experience chronic health conditions like obesity, cardiovascular disease and behavioral health disorders.2 However, Nevada ranks among the states with the highest high school dropout rates in the nation, creating inequalities for those with lower educational attainment.3 Students who are Black, Hispanic or Indigenous, students from low-income families, or those who speak a primary language other than English face an increased risk of dropping out of high school.4
The drivers behind school dropouts are complex, with individual student factors playing a role alongside broader influences related to the student’s family, school and community. Students from challenging socioeconomic backgrounds are more likely to experience daily stressors that impact school engagement and to attend under-resourced schools that are limited in their ability to meet students’ needs.4
Research shows that when students’ social, academic and health needs are met, students are better able to engage in positive relationships at school, which drives increased effort and achievement.4 For that reason, UnitedHealthcare Health Plan of Nevada looks to address students’ whole-person needs. The health plan recently provided a $225,000 grant for Communities In Schools (CIS) of Nevada to bring evidence-based, wraparound services to schools in Washoe County and Clark County. CIS currently supports nearly 100,000 students in nearly 108 schools across the state.
The organization’s Integrated Student Supports program embeds site coordinators in Title I and high-needs schools to give students the holistic support they need to stay in school and graduate on time. Coordinators tap into a network of community organizations and agencies, bringing the community into the school to meet students where they are at. Wraparound services include health needs like eyeglasses or behavioral health counseling, social needs like food or housing, and day-to-day supports like school supplies, career readiness or tutoring. Site coordinators offer school-wide supports, which aim to foster a positive and supportive learning environment, in addition to small group and one-one-one case management.
Students in small group or one-on-one case management identify at least one goal related to attendance, behavior, coursework or social-academic learning. Goals are based on early warning indicators for students at risk of dropping out of school and are identified in collaboration with each student. In the 2021-2022 school year, 70% of students made progress on their attendance goals, 76% made progress on social-emotional learning goals, 83% of students made progress with their behavior goals, 99% were promoted to the next grade on time, and 94% graduated or received their GED.
UnitedHealthcare Health Plan of Nevada is committed to supporting healthy kids and families in partnership with local, community-based organizations. By meeting students’ whole-person needs, Communities in Schools of Nevada aims to empower students with the support they need to engage in positive relationships at school, work towards academic success, and achieve their personal goals.
- https://health.gov/healthypeople/priority-areas/social-determinants-health/literature-summaries/high-school-graduation#cit6 Opens in a new window
- https://npc.umich.edu/publications/policy_briefs/brief9/ Opens in a new window
- https://www.americashealthrankings.org/explore/measures/Graduation_A/NV Opens in a new window
- https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2332858418799085 Opens in a new window