Implementation of a Dutch school-based integrated approach targeting education, health and poverty-a process evaluation

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This study provides an evaluation of the implementation of a school-based integrated approach to improve academic outcomes by targeting children's education, health, and poverty. A two-year municipal subsidy program was provided to four primary schools in a deprived urban neighborhood in Amsterdam. Schools were put in charge of the implementation and coordination of the program. The municipality and district authorities provided assistance. This study evaluated whether the program functioned as integrated approach, i.e., whether it targeted multiple domains and environments by involving various agencies and actors, and what factors facilitated or hampered this. It also yielded an overview of the initiatives implemented and the facilitators and barriers of successful implementation of initiatives. Principals' perceptions served as the main input for this study. We thematically analyzed seven written customized plans for spending the subsidy (one to two per school), 15 transcripts of interviews with the principals (three to four per school) and the minutes of 16 meetings between principals, policy officers, and researchers. According to the principals, the schools had made great progress in the education domain and in improving the school's pedagogical climate, but in the health and poverty domains less progress had been made. Apart from the municipality, relatively few external agencies and actors had been actively involved in the program, and progress in other environments than the school was hardly achieved. This study shows that functioning of the program as integrated approach was facilitated by connections between initiatives, and that hired, well-trusted third parties may be crucial to establish these connections. Lay summary This study evaluated whether a two-year municipal program to improve academic outcomes by targeting children's education, health, and poverty, provided to primary schools in a deprived urban neighborhood, functioned as intended, and if so why, or if not, why not. The program was intended to function as integrated approach. This means that it was supposed to target the mentioned domains, the school, home, and neighborhood environment, and to involve various agencies and actors, such as school staff, policy officers, parents, children, and external organizations. The school principals could implement multiple, self-chosen, initiatives. According to the principals, on whose perceptions this evaluation study was primarily based, both teaching and the school climate improved during the program. However, improvements in children's health and poverty levels, and outside the school environment in general, were more difficult to achieve. In addition, the program involved mainly school staff and policy officers. The program thus functioned as an integrated approach, but only to a limited extent. The functioning of the program as integrated approach was facilitated by involving hired third parties to stimulate interconnection of initiatives, i.e., initiatives serving the same goals, involving multiple agencies and actors, and/or being implemented in the same location.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHealth Promotion International
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Feb 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press.

ID: 291220400