From Addressing Barriers to Learning,
Vol. 1 (1), Winter 1996

A Focus on Policy

We are pleased to report that the initial response to our policy survey of state departments has been excellent. Over the next couple of months, we will analyze findings state-by-state, summarize them in an upcoming newsletter, and share them over the Internet. Subsequently, we will draft a series of working recommendations in consultation with identified reform leaders and others currently involved in reshaping relevant national and state policies (e.g., those concerned with school reform, initiatives to integrate health and human services, the special education inclusion movement). The recommendations will stress ways for states to improve their approach to addressing the multitude of mental health and psychosocial problems found in schools through relatively modest adaptations of their current reform efforts. We envision this as encompassing policy, infrastructure, and operational shifts related to Goals 2000 and the Improve America's Schools Act and with respect to the various initiatives for integrating health and human services and enhancing their linkage to schools.

As recommendations are established, we will recontact groups currently involved in reshaping relevant national and state policies and work with them to see that the recommendations are woven into their efforts and are acted upon. This will include providing essential training and technical support. In the process, we will highlight possible new structures for professional development (e.g., school-community-university coalitions, professional-to-professional and agency-to-agency networks, informal collaborations, self-study groups). We will also help clarify factors that must be addressed to avoid serious slippage between policy and effective collaborative action.

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