As Congress moves to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or ESEA, it should authorize a program to provide comprehensive services that create the conditions for students to learn in the classroom. These “wraparound” support services range from primary health and dental care to family engagement strategies. For many students, especially those who attend school in high-poverty communities, wraparound services are a vital complement to direct classroom interventions.
Congress should build upon existing federal efforts and implement the following recommendations to address the need for wraparound services:
- Consolidate the Full-Service Community Schools program and the Promise Neighborhoods program to maximize efficiency and resources
- Ensure that a consolidated program encourages the coordination of services
- Ensure that a consolidated program requires a planning year for grantees undertaking new initiatives
- Continue to allow school improvement funds and 21st Century Community Learning Center program funds to support a community schools strategy
The unmet needs of students have recently come into sharper focus in a nation where 42 percent of children live in low-income families. When used in conjunction with highly effective classroom interventions, wraparound services can be a powerful lever to help close the achievement gap and level the playing field for low-income students.
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