ERIC Identifier: ED458749
Publication Date: 2001-10-00
Author: Warger, Cynthia
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Disabilities and Gifted Education Arlington VA. ERIC/OSEP Special Project.
Research on Full-Service Schools and Students with
Disabilities. ERIC/OSEP Digest.
Full-service schools have been described as one-stop centers in which the
educational, physical, psychological, and social requirements of students and
their families are addressed in a coordinated, collaborative manner using school
and community services and supports (Dryfoos, 1994).
In the full-service school model, schools house a variety of health care,
mental health, and related services for children and their families. Offering
services on school grounds alleviates many of the problems that interfere with
families obtaining services for their children (e.g., no transportation, lack of
understanding of public health and social service systems, inability to take
time away from work, and lack of health insurance). The services offered by
full-service schools vary and are delivered through collaboration among the
school, agencies, and the families. Examples follow:
* Adult education
* Family planning
* After-school care
* Social services to access basic living resources
* Economic services/job placement
* Quality early childhood education
* Mental/physical health screening
* Drug and alcohol prevention
* Drop-out prevention
* School meal programs
* Child care
* Guidance and counseling
* Public health care
* Conflict resolution
* Child abuse education
* Juvenile alternative services
* Latch-key services
* Mental health counseling
treatments for chronic disabling conditions
* Special education services
* Related services
* Emergency, crisis treatment
* Case management
HOW DO FULL-SERVICE SCHOOLS BENEFIT STUDENTS WITH
The potential of full-service school programs for students
with disabilities is only beginning to become apparent. For the most part,
full-service school programs have been designed for at-risk children. The
emerging literature base ties the concept of full-service schools to the
following areas of need:
* Prevention. Because of their emphasis on prevention, full-service schools
hold promise for providing services to children early, when health or behavior
problems are first detected. Early intervention has often been shown to reduce
the risk of more severe problems.
* Support. Students with disabilities come disproportionally from families
who are living in poverty and/or living with physical or mental health needs or
educational needs (e.g., literacy). Integrating services at the school holds
particular promise for improving outcomes for these children. Full-service
schools can provide noncurricular services to students that support their total
well-being, enabling them to learn.
* Integrated services related to special education. The Individuals with
Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the 1997 Amendments underscored the
importance of viewing special education as a service and not as a place. The
full- service school program benefits students with disabilities because it
provides easy access to services. Further, providing school-based services may
reduce concerns of general education personnel regarding complex medical or
behavioral problems, by providing access to specialists.
WHAT IS RESEARCH FINDING ABOUT FULL-SERVICE SCHOOLS AND STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES?
During the last decade, the US Department of
Education's Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) has funded several
projects to investigate the status of full- service schools in serving students
with disabilities. The following project descriptions represent an emerging
knowledge base on the state of practice.
PARTICIPATION OF STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES IN CALIFORNIA'S STATEWIDE INITIATIVE
California's Healthy Start program, a state program
designed to integrate services near or at school settings, provided the context
for researchers at SRI International to evaluate system issues, service issues,
and family outcomes related to providing school-linked services. Researchers
concluded that special education teachers had contact with the school-linked
Researchers also interviewed families of children with disabilities regarding
their involvement and satisfaction levels with the school-linked programs. The
majority of those families who had received services, found them to be easily
accessible and of high quality.
Researchers offered the following recommendations for practice (Blackorby,
Newman, & Finnegan, 1997; Blackorby, Newman, & Finnegan, 1998):
* Staff from the different agencies must open lines of communication, conduct
a needs assessment to determine services to be offered, and resolve differences
in procedures, ideology, and structure.
* Staff must conduct an ongoing review of records and needs assessments to
ensure that appropriate services are being provided.
* Students with disabilities must be specifically targeted by school-linked
* Personnel at school-linked services sites must find ways to reach all
REPLICATION AND EVALUATION OF A FULL-SERVICE
University of Maryland researchers replicated and evaluated the
Linkages to Learning Model for the delivery of school-based mental health,
health care, and social services (Fox, Leone, Rubin, Oppenheim, Miller, & Friedman, 1999). The model was designed to provide prevention and early
intervention services to children at risk for developing emotional and behavior
The school and the community were involved in initial and ongoing needs
assessments to determine student needs. Mental health, social service,
educational support, and physical health services were offered as part of the
Researchers found that in the full-service model:
* Classroom teachers reported a positive effect on children's behavior over
* Children who needed services most were the ones who received them.
* Children reported significantly higher emotional distress levels at
baseline than children in the control school. Three years later, distress scores
for children in the experimental school were lower than those of children in the
* Children receiving educational services improved significantly more on
tests of mathematic achievement.
* Parents reported a significant decrease of children's negative behaviors
over 3 years.
THE RELATIONSHIP OF FULL-SERVICE SCHOOLS TO THE PREVENTION OF SERIOUS EMOTIONAL DISTURBANCE
Researchers Marjorie Montague and Anne
Hocutt at the University of Miami studied two full-service schools in urban
districts in Florida. The schools were selected because they had a large
proportion of children who were poor and likely to be eligible for Medicaid.
Both schools had state-funded clinic buildings on school grounds that housed the
Overall, locating the services on school grounds resulted in greater access
and utilization. An important focus of the study was a qualitative investigation
of the facilitators and barriers to service access and utilization with the
full-service school approach for children at risk for emotional disturbance.
Characteristics that facilitated access to services included:
* Coordination. School-based coordinators and teams were utilized to link the
full-service school programs to the general school program.
* Community involvement. Monthly meetings of school personnel, families, and
community providers took place.
* Building administrator support. The principal supported the full-service
program by developing creative use of funds, organizing community resources, and
demonstrating commitment to the program.
* Cultural sensitivity. Educational and other services at the schools were
provided in a culturally appropriate manner. Service providers represented the
cultural and linguistic backgrounds of the children served.
Researchers found funding of the services to be a major barrier (Hocutt,
Montague, & McKinney, 2000). They concluded that Medicaid and managed care
were not viable funding sources in the prevention of serious mental health
IMPLICATIONS FOR POLICY AND PRACTICE
The concept of
full-service schools fits with the trend in special education to form
interagency and family collaborations and to integrate comprehensive services
into the student's educational program. Full-service schools hold promise for
addressing the needs of children in special education in the following ways:
* Preventing problems from becoming serious and/or being referred to more
intensive support programs.
* Providing early intervention.
* Supporting students with multiple risk factors in accessible locations.
* Providing comprehensive intervention support in school settings.
More research is needed to explore specific features of how students with
disabilities may be served in full-service school models. In addition, research
is needed that addresses the variety of implementation issues (e.g., funding,
forming collaborative partnerships, eligibility for services, and interfacing
classroom staff with service providers) that affect delivery of services.
Blackorby, J., Newman, L., & Finnegan, K.
(July 1998). Integrated services, high need communities, and special education:
Lessons and paradoxes. Menlo Park, CA: SRI International.
Blackorby, J., Newman, L., & Finnegan, K. (April 1997). School-linked
services for students with disabilities and their families: A case study of 20
families. Menlo Park, CA: SRI International.
Dryfoos, J. (1994). Full-service schools: A Revolution in Health and Social
Services for Children, Youth, and Families. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass
Fox, N., Leone, P., Rubin, K., Oppenheim, J., Miller, M., & Friedman, K.
(1999). Final report on the Linkages to Learning program and evaluation at Broad
Acres Elementary School. College Park: University of Maryland, Department of
Hocutt, A., Montague, M., & McKinney, J. (in press). The impact of
managed care on efforts to prevent development of serious emotional disturbances
in young children. Journal of Disability Policy Studies.