Support Beyond the Classroom is one of our seven Vision Report Key Focus Areas, identifying different ways we can help students access the nutritional and health resources needed to come to school ready to learn. As we know, a hungry, sick, or emotionally unstable child simply cannot perform his/her best in the classroom, so improving access to these resources is crucial.
Not only does Arkansas have one of the highest food insecurity rates in the nation, but we’re also in the bottom quartile of states in access to preventative health and dental care. Twenty-eight percent of children are considered “food insecure” and four out of 10 children ages two to 17 lack sufficient access to medical or dental care.
- We’re working in tandem with the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance on our recommendation to encourage eligible schools to sign up for Community Eligibility Program (CEP), which provides all students in a school free breakfast and lunch. Over the past year, we’ve seen a more than 50% increase in the number of participating schools.
- We’re also proud to support the Arkansas Department of Education in their efforts to:
- Partner with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences to pilot telemedicine programs in rural School-Based health Centers (STAR Program). This is accompanied by a dentistry component in partnership with Delta Dental.
- Pilot a program for 32 schools in the 2018-19 school year as a result of the “Recess Bill,” which dictates that students must now receive 60 minutes per day of unstructured recess, in addition to Physical Education classes.
- Support the Arkansas Activities Association in Professional Development for coaches as a result of another piece of legislation, which dictates that coaches receive training in cardiac arrest in addition to concussion, dehydration, etc.
In addition, we’re also proud to support afterschool and summer programs that provide students with enrichment opportunities, positive reinforcement, one-on-one attention, mentoring and more. We know that only 13 percent of Arkansas students participate in these programs because of a lack of seats and transportation barriers.
- We are proud of the current work underway under the Positive Youth Development Act, intended to establish a structure for a system of state-funded afterschool and summer programs.