DENVER, Feb. 7, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Today the Colorado Legacy Foundation (CLF) and Kaiser Permanente, in partnership with the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) and the Colorado Coalition for Healthy Schools announced a $3 million investment from Kaiser Permanente to improve Colorado school health. The new School Health Policy and Practice Data Collection Program will create infrastructure to measure, track and better understand the health of Colorado students.
Health and education are intertwined. But what key factors of a school create the healthiest environment for kids to learn and thrive? That information is difficult to know without similar data across individual schools and districts statewide. The School Health Policy and Practice Data Collection Program aims to collect, organize and synthesize that critical information into a consistent statewide system. Information obtained through the program will inform decisions at the local, district and state levels about activities that promote health and academic success in different learning environments. It will also allow for health and wellness to be included into CDE's system of accountability and accreditation.
"Kaiser Permanente has a long-standing reputation for making smart investments in Colorado communities," said Lieutenant Governor Joe Garcia. "The School Health Policy and Practice Data Collection Program will help to dramatically improve and transform how Colorado schools access, analyze and use data to support students and staff in adopting and maintaining healthy behaviors."
Colorado's youth face a number of health challenges. The state's childhood obesity rate is growing at the second highest rate of increase in the country. Nearly one out of four children ages 2-14 are overweight or obese. Close to 10 percent of Colorado children have asthma. Forty percent of these kids reported missing at least one day of school last year due to this chronic illness. Studies show that children with asthma tend to miss more school, have poorer school performance and have reduced social and intellectual growth. There is a great need to understand and evaluate the factors that impact health challenges like these for Colorado youth.
Currently, Colorado school districts are inundated with requests to complete health surveys from a variety of external parties. These repetitive surveys take away from valuable class time and compiled data is not often shared back to the reporting entities. The School Health Policy and Practice Data Collection Program seeks to decrease this burden on schools and increase overall value by feeding health data back to the local level. In addition, the School Policy Indicators Group will support the program in an advisory role to help coordinate and collect data on common indicators of physical activity and nutrition.
"Good data is the foundation of good decision making," said Robert Hammond, Colorado Commissioner of Education. "This streamlined system outlining common school health and wellness indicators will help to analyze trends as well as provide opportunities to correlate the connection between health and wellness and academic achievement."
CLF's health and wellness strategy directly aligns with Kaiser Permanente's long-standing commitment to improving community health. Kaiser Permanente is a founding funder of LiveWell Colorado and the Weigh and Win Program. In 2011, the health plan directed more than $90 million in community benefit funding to programs to improve the health of Coloradans.
"If we want Colorado's kids to be the best and brightest, we need to make sure they are set up to succeed academically in schools that promote health and wellness and allow opportunities to achieve the best quality of life," said Donna Lynne, DrPH, President of Kaiser Permanente Colorado. "We are proud to support this program and we hope it will help districts, policy makers, parents and residents make decisions that will support children to learn and grow in healthy environments."
"We know that there is a critical link between student health and academic achievement," said Dr. Helayne Jones, President and CEO of the Colorado Legacy Foundation. "This investment will catalyze the information infrastructure we need to create systems and supports to ensure that there are healthy schools throughout our state. We are grateful to Kaiser Permanente for making this forward thinking and strategic investment and we are honored to partner with them in this important work."
About Kaiser Permanente Colorado
Kaiser Permanente Colorado is the state's largest nonprofit health plan, proudly working to improve the lives and health of Colorado residents for more than 40 years. Kaiser Permanente Colorado provides comprehensive health care services to more than 540,000 members through 26 medical offices and a network of affiliated hospitals and physicians. The health plan was named "Highest in Member Satisfaction" among Commercial Health Plans by J.D. Power and Associates for the fifth straight year. Kaiser Permanente was recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) as the top-ranked commercial health plan in Colorado, No. 6 in the nation and the second ranked Medicare plan in the U.S. Kaiser Permanente was also recently recognized as a 2012 Hypertension Champion by Million Hearts™. In 2011, Kaiser Permanente proudly directed more than $90 million to community benefit programs to improve the health of all Coloradans. For more Kaiser Permanente news, visit kp.org/newscenter or follow us on twitter @kpcolorado or facebook.com/kpcolorado.
About Colorado Legacy Foundation
The Colorado Legacy Foundation (CLF) is an independent nonprofit working in partnership with the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) and public education stakeholders to accelerate bold improvements in student achievement through innovation, collaboration, and capacity building. CLF believes that increased student achievement for all Colorado students requires effective leaders in every school, effective educators in every classroom, and healthy and engaging environments that ignite a passion for learning in every student. CLF equips teachers, leaders, and organizations with the knowledge, tools, guidance, and resources to drive improvement outcomes while creating the conditions to innovate together, share knowledge, and explore new possibilities. CLF works to accelerate the achievement of a high-quality K-12 educational system that ensures the success of every educator, leader and student.
SOURCE Kaiser Permanente Colorado