Health and Education Alliance of Louisiana brings resources to serve the Whole Child at school
(New Orleans, LA) — Earlier today, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation announced a $300,000 grant award to New Orleans-based Health and Education Alliance of Louisiana (HEAL). The award will fund an expansion of HEAL’s successful “Whole Child” model into schools across the greater New Orleans region and, over three years, other parts of Louisiana. Representatives from both organizations joined local school board and civic officials at Mildred Osborne Charter School in New Orleans East to celebrate the program expansion.
HEAL’s “Whole Child” programming supports schools by providing healthcare expertise for students in need. Much of HEAL’s work involves providing health screenings, such as vision screenings to determine if students are in need of glasses. HEAL then works with schools to create plans to meet student education and health needs. HEAL helps school leaders access Medicaid dollars to get support services for children who qualify, so that services can be provided to children without any additional cost to the state.
In schools where HEAL supports students, GPAs rise between 25 and 60 percent. In 2018, the Blue Cross Foundation funded an expansion of Whole Child programs beyond New Orleans to include schools in Tangipahoa Parish. To date, the program has screened 45,000 children.
“Working in schools, we are able to bring a clinical perspective to what may look like an academic deficiency,” said Constance Bellone, CEO of HEAL. HEAL has worked in schools where as many as half of the students failed basic vision screenings. “Correcting health issues like that can make a world of difference for a student with a simple, treatable health barrier,” Bellone added.
According to Blue Cross Foundation president Michael Tipton, the HEAL project represents an important part of the Foundation’s efforts to improve the wellness and wellbeing of Louisiana’s children:
“We know that the social determinants of health – or what HEAL calls the ‘Whole Child Model,’ are an influencing set of factors in whether students succeed, particularly early in life,” he said. “When kids are healthier and experiencing a better quality of life, they achieve more at school, leading better outcomes later in life.”
In the first year of the grant, HEAL will expand to more schools across south Louisiana, including more schools in the greater New Orleans area and St. Bernard Parish. Then, Bellone’s team will work to reach schools in Baton Rouge, Lafayette and other regions.
HEAL is confident that the students receiving its support in its expanded territory will show positive results. “It’s intensive, complicated work. But if we invest in these kids today, it will have a major impact on their future,” Bellone said.
About the Blue Cross Foundation
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation works each day to improve the health and lives of Louisianians by empowering everyday people to do extraordinary good. By building and funding coalitions of friends, families and neighbors, the Foundation hopes to build a healthier Louisiana, particularly for its children. The Foundation is funded solely by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, but is a separate 501(c)(3) nonprofit entity. Together, Blue Cross and the Blue Cross Foundation invest $2.5 million each year into Louisiana’s communities and nonprofits.
About the Health and Education Alliance of Louisiana
A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 2006, HEAL’s mission is to improve academic, social-emotional and health outcomes for our at-risk children. HEAL works directly in schools to address the physical health, mental health and social barriers that prevent our children from succeeding in school and realizing their fullest potential.