From the archives: Sharing what we’re learning through papers, policy briefs, and articles

While the blog goes on summer vacation, we’ll spend the next few months sharing past posts and social media coverage about the many ways City Connects helps students thrive. 

This week’s roundup collects some of the articles, research briefs, and policy proposals published by our partners and by the Mary E. Walsh Center for Thriving Children that share insights drawn from City Connects’ evidence-based model of integrated student support. 

The Center for Thriving Children is the home of City Connects and is based at Boston College’s Lynch School of Education and Human Development. The Center “advances science, implementation, and innovation to promote healthy child and youth development, learning, and thriving.” 

These publications speak to long-standing student needs and to the ways these needs have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

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 “A new article: pandemic recovery and integrated student support”
City Connects Blog, April 29, 2021

 As the country steers through the pandemic, successfully rebuilding schools is essential. Students, families, teachers, and school staff members have spent more than a year dealing with the chronic physical and emotional challenges of pandemic life, from losing contact with friends to losing jobs to losing loved ones.

A new article published by the Washington, D.C., think tank Brookings explains how schools can meet these needs by becoming more powerful and effective. 

K-12 schools can, the article explains, use more than $190 billion in federal relief funding to “transform the hodgepodge of services and programs available to students into powerful systems of learning and opportunity.” 

The article’s co-authors are Joan Wasser Gish, the Director of Strategic Initiatives at Boston College’s Center for Optimized Student Support, home to City Connects, and Brooks Bowden, a University of Pennsylvania Professor and the Director of the Center for Benefit-Cost Studies in Education (CBCSE). 

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“Integrating comprehensive services in early childhood settings: a policy brief for state leaders” 
City Connects Blog, February 24, 2022 

Early childhood programs provide crayons, blocks, and story time – and they should also, a new policy brief says, improve access to comprehensive services. 

Strong models already exist, and now is the ideal time for states to draw on the lessons that these programs offer and scale access to comprehensive supports and opportunities.

The pandemic has made the need for more support during early childhood more urgent than ever. 

“Researchers from the fields of economics, education, neuroscience, and psychology have found that growing up poor — or during a pandemic — affects child development and school readiness for two primary reasons,” according to the brief – “Building a Statewide System to Support Early Childhood Program Integration with Comprehensive Services” – which has just been released by the Mary E. Walsh Center for Thriving Children (CTC) at Boston College’s Lynch School of Education and Human Development.

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Department of the Taoiseach, the Irish Prime Minister

“Talking about City Connects, in Ireland”
City Connects Blog, February 10, 2022 

City Connects’ story is also told in Ireland’s Education Yearbook, which is distributed nationwide each year. The Yearbook records “the story of Irish education” and bridges “the gap between practitioners, managers, researchers and policy-makers.” 

The Yearbook’s 2021 edition tells the story of how Ireland’s schools have persevered through pandemic-related school closings and re-openings. It also tells the story of City Connects, explaining that Dublin’s City Connects schools “range in size from 60 to 405 pupils, and all include students from a local Irish background and students from a migrant background. Principals in the NEIC have consistently raised the need for wraparound services for children in the NEIC and using the school setting as the focus for supporting a child’s strengths and needs while accessing external services. 

“It is the first time that City Connects is being piloted outside the US.”

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“A new policy brief: to help address the pandemic, federal leaders can promote integrated student support”
City Connects Blog, February 11, 2021 

As the country manages the health and economic burdens created by the pandemic, federal officials have an opportunity to help children and families. 

A new publication, “Building Systems of Integrated Student Support: A Policy Brief for Federal Leaders,” explains how. 

The need is substantial. 

“From wealthy suburbs to poor inner cities and rural areas, businesses are struggling, and food lines are long,” the brief explains. And while the “funds flowing through the stimulus packages seem big on paper in Washington,” the funds can feel paltry once they arrive in communities, particularly “in the context of historic and pandemic-driven increases in child poverty, hunger, trauma, academic learning loss, and limited opportunities.”

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