Frequently Asked Questions

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What is a Children's Aid Society Community School?

A Community School is a public school that combines best educational practices with in-house youth development, health and social services to ensure that children are physically, emotionally and socially prepared to learn. Active, long-term partnerships between school personnel, parents and community agencies are prioritized. Children, youth, families and communities receive a range of support and opportunities before, during and after regular school days, six or seven days a week.

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What results do Community Schools seek to achieve?

Partners involved in Community Schools work toward these goals:

  • Ensure that children are ready to learn once they enter school and every day thereafter.
  • Encourage all students to learn and achieve higher standards.
  • Prepare young people for adult roles as workers, parents and citizens.
  • Involve parents and community members in the school and their own lifelong learning.
  • Build families and neighborhoods that are safer, supportive and engaged.

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Why are Community Schools better than traditional public schools?

Community Schools increase opportunities for children to succeed in school by providing resources that make a difference:

  • Increased parental involvement in children’s education.
  • Extra learning opportunities through educational enrichment.
  • Consistent access to adult guidance and support.
  • Convenient access to health, dental and mental health services.

In addition, Community Schools address contemporary economic and social realities, including families’ need for safe and affordable childcare.

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What are the best models of Community Schools?

“Community Schools” is an inclusive term used to describe a number of school-community partnerships. In her book entitled Full-Service Schools, Joy Dryfoos singled out The Children’s Aid Society’s Community Schools approach as a model of “how to put together both sides of the fundamental full-service equation: restructuring of education, plus helping children and their families by providing health, mental health and social services on site.”

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What are the core components of The Children's Aid Society Community Schools model?

The Community School concept is an innovative vision of the school's role within the community. Its primary goal is to promote children’s learning and development. In the Children's Aid model, expanded educational, health, social and recreation services are provided. They include:

  • An extended-day program that offers educational enrichment before school, after school, weekends and summers.
  • Medical, dental, mental health and social services.
  • A comprehensive parent involvement program,
  • Early childhood education.
  • Adult education.
  • Community-wide events.

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Can this model be adapted to other schools and schools districts?

Yes. At the present time, approximately 3,500 schools nationally and internationally are adapting the Children's Aid Community Schools model. In New York City, Children's Aid successfully operates 21 Community Schools programs in 15 buildings. Newark, N.J.; Boston, Mass.; Salt Lake City, Utah, and Long Beach, Calif., have used the Children's Aid approach to establish highly effective Community Schools.

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What results have Community School achieved?

Since the opening of its first Community School in 1992, The Children’s Aid Society has used research by Fordham University, the Education Development Center, ActKnowledge and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine to evaluate its programs. Our intent has been to document the impact on youth, families and schools. In the time since the opening of the first Community School, the following outcomes have been documented:

  • Improved student achievement
  • Increased parental involvement
  • Higher student and teacher attendance
  • Improved school climate
  • Decreased special education referrals
  • Improved mental and physical health

It should be noted that the comprehensive, coordinated services provided by the Community Schools strategy are most effective when partnering schools have stable leadership and a strong core instructional program. Support services cannot compensate for weakness in these areas. However, when integrated into a school with a stable leader and a strong instructional program, they add great value. In addition, Community Schools’ extended-day programs are more effective in offering enrichment rather than remediation services.

In a report prepared for the Coalition for Community Schools, Joy Dryfoos reviewed 49 evaluations of Community Schools and found that 46 reported positive outcomes. Gains in reading and math test scores were reported by 36 of the 49 programs. In addition, 19 programs reported improvements in school attendance, 11 reported reductions in school suspensions, 12 showed increases in parent involvement, six noted lower rates of neighborhood crime and violence and several (including The Children’s Aid Society) showed multiple positive outcomes.

While Dryfoos cautions that these findings are preliminary, she does goes on to note that, “The weight of the evidence is substantial that Community Schools are beginning to be able to demonstrate their positive effects on students, families, and communities… The preliminary data summarized here suggest that many of these models are able to produce multiple impacts that go beyond the expectations of traditional school reforms.”

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