Principals as Champions of Collaboration for Vulnerable Children and Youth: A Case Study of Community Schools
Children and youth with mental disorders require support from multiple service providers, and therefore intersectoral collaboration is required. Community schools, as accessible hubs, with broad-based partnerships, may provide the conditions that foster much needed intersectoral collaboration for this population of students. In order to examine the degree of collaboration in community schools, a qualitative, multi-case study of three community schools in the province of Manitoba, Canada was conducted, and the perspectives of key stakeholders in community schools were obtained. Findings indicate that the leadership of the school principal was essential in creating a culture of collaboration, and in fostering intersectoral partnerships, which enhanced service provision. However, senior administrative and policy level support from school divisions, and the provincial government for the provision of intersectoral support in community schools was described as limited. The future of community schools was characterized as tenable given their dependency upon the leadership of the school principal for the provision of intersectoral support, in the absence of policies, procedures, and resources that legitimize an intersectoral leadership role. Future research may involve identifying a community school as a pilot site for the formal integration of support with joint funding and staffing from government departments including, but not limited to, health, mental health, and child welfare under the formally designated leadership of the principal of the community school.
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