Giving Compass' Take:

• Alison DeNisco describes how schools are embracing wraparound services to better serve their students. 

• What extra services would be most beneficial in your community? 

• Learn more about the benefits of community schools

Amid rapidly changing student and community demographics, many school districts have morphed from education centers into community centers. These districts offer medical care, housing assistance, free meals and other social services.

“Schools are the centers of communities,” says Kayla Jackson, a project director at AASA, The School Superintendents Association. “It’s an easy entry point for any type of social services.”

This approach allows administrators to confront more effectively the academic impact of students’ nonacademic problems, such as health, homelessness and incarcerated parents, Jackson says.

Today’s district leaders better understand how health and socioeconomic factors can impede students’ ability to learn, says Pia Escudero, director of the student health and human services division for Los Angeles USD.

Traditionally, districts would refer families to external services. However, long work hours and transportation issues, among other reasons, prevent families from using those resources, Escudero says.

LAUSD now offers mental health, dental and vision screenings, in addition to wellness and immigrant student services. “We’re bringing more prevention and early intervention services to schools so students can get the services and not miss school, and have access to better health care quicker,” Escudero says.

Specialized counselors now support students in foster care and those dealing with homelessness.

Read the full article about wraparound services by Alison DeNisco at District Administration.