Collaboration and Partnerships


Each mobile healthcare program is unique and tailored to the needs of its specific community, and tailoring requires consistent updates and assessment. For some, this means building trust and understanding in communities that may have low health literacy or general distrust by providing initial contact and referrals or bringing specialty care to the people.

Building a network of collaborative partners to enhance your mobile team’s vision and champion the conditions is necessary to achieve a successful school-based mobile healthcare program. Mobile healthcare staff can engage partners and collaborate across sectors to build buy-in and support for mobile healthcare services.

Engaging with stakeholders and partners benefits your school-based mobile healthcare efforts by allowing you to:

  • Strengthen your relationships with key stakeholders and garner essential buy-in from those who can enhance and sustain your work.
  • Work with collaborating partners to implement, promote, support, and sustain your mobile healthcare program.

Key informants from school-based mobile healthcare programs share that they engage with the community to make sure that the care they are providing is the care that is needed. They continually communicate and collaborate with schools, partners, and their communities to make explicit their capabilities, their needs, and what they hope to accomplish together.

Partner and collaborate…begin to foster those relationships early. Find out what the needs are of the school sites, the challenges that they are facing…. And so, yeah, making sure that that happens on a regular [basis] even if you are well established in a site, still continue to maintain those relationships and straighten them. And be open to feedback.

Promising Practices

  • Identify strategic opportunities for collaboration among groups with a stake in student wellness
    • Consider each stakeholder group: school staff and leaders, community-based organizations, parents/guardians, and youth. Each partner can offer something different to advance school-based mobile healthcare.
  • Determine what you hope to accomplish by engaging partners.
    • Articulate why your team will engage partners.
    • Consider whether potential collaborators will:
    • Approve and support school-based mobile healthcare.
    • Provide insight or information to help design or implement school-based mobile healthcare.
    • Increase buy-in for school-based mobile healthcare.
    • Embed school-based mobile healthcare in school policies and procedures.
    • Help recruit or enroll students in the school-based mobile healthcare program.
    • Increase the visibility of school-based mobile healthcare services.
    • Provide funding and resources to support school-based mobile healthcare efforts now or in the future.
  • Conduct asset mapping to identify school, community, and family stakeholders.
    • Asset mapping is a process of inventorying and identifying strengths and available resources in a community and depicting them in a visual manner. You can build on these assets to address community needs and improve health. 
    • Determine with whom you will work, for what services or programs, and at what times.
    • Prioritize partners who can enhance your efforts—choose those with high levels of influence, interest, and commitment to school-based mobile healthcare.
    • Include organizations that share interests in school wellness in your engagement plans. These could include advisory groups, community-based organizations, and public health organizations.
    • Ask yourself the following questions for each potential stakeholder: What motivates them? What information, skills, or resources do they have? What outcomes are they interested in seeing?
  • Use the Stakeholder Map to prioritize your partners.
    • Use the Stakeholder Engagement Plan Template to develop long-term, ongoing stakeholder engagement plans.
    • Decide how you will engage each partner: inform, consult, involve, or collaborate.
    • Engage partners early and often.
    • Use the Message Box to develop clear, concise messages and ask for various stakeholder groups.
    • Codify the relationships, roles, and responsibilities of your partners through letters of agreement (LOA) and memorandums of understanding (MOU).
    • Revisit, monitor, and revise your stakeholder engagement plan regularly, as stakeholder priorities may shift over time, or new stakeholders may emerge based on the school-wide wellness approaches your team selects.

Stories from the field

School-based mobile healthcare programs require open and frequent communication and collaboration to ensure that schools, communities, and school-based mobile healthcare programs successfully provide necessary and high-quality care. One mobile staff member shared a story of an assistant principal who called them directly about a student having trouble with their vision as an example of what success looks like in action for their program:

"So to me, that’s successful that they knew where to call and asking how to get the child in, and me explaining, 'Okay…we need a consent form,' and them getting the consent form completed by the parent, and getting that child seen within just like a day or two."

This program and others note that success and successful partnerships require the understanding between partners that healthy students learn better, and success results in more buy-in. One of the leading reasons students miss school or do poorly in school is because of issues related to their health, so a good partnership for many programs recognizes “school-based health as an integration to the larger school system and not a separate entity.”

To address staffing shortages, a California program started hiring former students to aid in the logistic coordination and communication between the program and schools, solving a problem shared by many school-based mobile healthcare programs around communication and collaboration with schools through a champion or liaisons:

"Several of the health educators right now that work as part of the School-Based team are previous participants in some shape or form, whether they visited the clinics themselves, or had services at their school, and it’s what attracted them to the work."

This California program also influenced students to pursue school-based healthcare as a career field, “We’ve had several students who have actually once graduated, gone to school to become a nurse or an NP [or a] health educator and wanting to work in school-based health.” Both solutions can assist in buy-in and community engagement because they aid in developing champions or liaisons. Once a program has a champion or liaison, they can provide more quality services to more students’ long term and reach people they had not previously been able to because it is easier to develop trust.

Contra Costa Health in California operates school-based health centers and school-based mobile healthcare programs to over 40 school campuses across their County. Their outreach to students includes an Instagram page, where they post information about their services, health education, engaging staff bios, and more. 


  • Employ creative strategies to recruit and keep different partner groups engaged. Some may require calls and emails, whereas others may require meetings, presentations, and in-person opportunities to connect.
  • Empower youth. Foster student leaders and be open to receiving feedback on the services, programs, and policies youth want, need, and expect.
  • Plan early. Use your school’s academic calendar to identify the best times to engage school administration, staff, and teachers. Ideal timing may differ depending on the school.
  • Be patient. Building relationships with external partners takes time, especially if there is no prior partner relationship. It also requires persistence and ongoing outreach efforts.
  • Meet parents and guardians where they are; churches, libraries, restaurants, grocery stores, social services agencies, back-to-school nights, parent-teacher conferences, and school-wide events are all great opportunities to engage with parents and guardians.
  • Identify those who may impede your efforts and strategize how to build their support. For instance, school leaders may offer verbal support for school-based mobile healthcare efforts. Still, if they do not attend meetings or respond to phone calls or emails due to competing priorities or time, your team may not be able to get permission or additional support needed for your school-based mobile healthcare program.
  • Provide resources for students, parents, guardians, school staff, and community members whenever possible (books, pamphlets, information about upcoming events, etc.).
  • Use all available modes of communication to reach your partners, including email, phone, text, website, social media, and newsletter.