Return on Investment for School Health

Recently the Oregon Health Authority, Public Health Division released an executive summary and full report called, Investment in School Health Capacity; Payoffs in Health, Achievement and Stronger Communities. I foresee this document helping to support many around the nation implement school health programs. 

Basically this report makes the fiscal case that working on school health IS worth it. Not just for the health and well-being of our youth and staff in schools. Not just for our communities. Not just to raise test scores and grades. Not just to raise the graduation rates. Not just to increase attendance. Not just to send consistent messages to everyone about health. But, because it's fiscally responsible. 

The report shares that in order for schools to do this work, they need to have an infrastructure in place. The report calls this benchmark "Core Capacity". They then estimated the return on investment (ROI) of implementing Core Capacity in every public secondary school in Oregon. "Core Capacity", or what I call school health infrastructure (those things that need to be in place to build a sustainable school health program) are:

  1. School-level health coordinator
  2. Health Focused health assessment, examples include Alliance for a Healthier Generation's Healthy Schools Program Inventory and CDCs School Health Index
  3. Health goal and objective in a School Improvement Plan. This means linking school health to education accountability measures.
  4. School Health Advisory Council- also called School Wellness Councils 

I encourage you to read the executive summary and full reports here. But, I'll share a couple of major findings:

  • The graduation rates for students in schools with Core Capacity were higher for all groups of students than for students in schools without Core Capacity.
  • The expectation is that between $5.24 to $6.62 would be saved for every dollar spent to achieve Core Capacity in all Oregon public secondary schools.

Know your audience. If you need to make the case for doing school health work, find out who your audience is and what they care about. Graduation rates? Test scores? Attendance? Healthier kids? Healthier staff? Return on Investment (fiscal)? Healthier communities? We have more and more research on all of these connections. Contact me if you need resources! I would be happy to support YOU making the case for school health.