KSSN is a community school initiative serving 30 schools in nine school districts across Kent County. Under the community school model, schools partner with local, state, and non-profit organizations to meet the basic needs of students and their families. Partner organizations provide physical and mental health services, social services, before- and after-school programming for students, and education and leadership opportunities for family members. These resources are managed at each site by a community school coordinator. Community schools work to improve individual student academic and social outcomes, but also family, school, classroom, and neighborhood level outcomes.
Community schools look different across the country, and even across individual school districts. The resources and programming available at each site are dictated by the needs of that school’s particular student and family population. Along with a community school coordinator, KSSN schools are staffed with a mental health clinician, and many also have a DHHS Success Coach, and nurse or health aide. This team, along with school staff, teachers, and administrators, serves students and families, working to ensure that students arrive in the classroom ready to learn. "Ready to learn" can mean that students are not absent, not hungry or sick, or even that they are not worried about where they are going to sleep that night.
KSSN particularly focuses on attendance, mental health services, and after-school programming. Since 2012, KSSN has been used as a model for the governor’s Pathways to Potential initiative, which seeks to improve attendance and promote family financial stability by placing DHHS staff in close to 200 schools across the state. KSSN is recognized as an exemplary organization for building community school capacity in the state and decreasing chronic absence. KSSN partners with the Community Research Institute at Grand Valley State University for evaluation purposes, ensuring that its work is effective and aligned with research-based practice.