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Department of Education
P. O. Box 94064
Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9064
Toll Free: 1-877-453-2721

Louisiana Department
of Health and Hospitals
P. O. Box 629
Baton Rouge, LA 70821-0629
Phone: 225-342-9500

                                        Also Contact: Doug Myers, DOE, (225) 342-3600 


BATON ROUGE, La. – The heads of the Department of Health and the Department of Education announced Wednesday a partnership to improve the health of children in public schools.

The announcement represents a pledge between the state's two largest agencies in seeking opportunities to work together and improve the health of school-age children.

The effort includes:

  •  The early identification of children who are uninsured and the subsequent enrolling of those eligible into the Louisiana Children's Health Insurance Program (LaCHIP)

  • Implementing a program to address childhood obesity through school screenings

  • Improving school nutrition and physical education programs

LDH Secretary David Hood said the partnership is a natural fit because both departments understand the critical link between good health and a good education.

“In order for children to perform better in schools, they need to be as healthy as possible. That's why we have a long-standing relationship through our school-based health centers. Ultimately, schools will have healthier students, and our department will have children and adults with lower health costs,” Hood said.

State Superintendent of Education Cecil J. Picard said the joint effort will result in more efficient, more effective and more accountable health care and education systems.

“We know a healthy child will learn and perform better academically than a child who struggles with poor health,” Picard said. “With more than a quarter of our children living in poverty, we can't sit back and watch while these children perform poorly in school and perpetuate the cycle.”

Hood and Picard stressed the partnership will include researchers at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center/LSU in Baton Rouge who will assist with developing strategies to address obesity in school-age children.

Hood said the Pennington Center currently is assisting LDH with developing protocols for its CommunityCARE program to address obesity. LDH's goal is to work with the primary care doctors participating in CommunityCARE to implement strategies to identify their obese young patients, then provide appropriate interventions. LDH and Education then will employ the same strategies in school-based health centers.

Picard said the partnership will lead to the development of accountability standards for good health, and that these standards can be used to measure the overall health of students.

“This is a continuation of the efforts we started with our LA 4 program, which identifies at-risk children. But, I hope we can soon not only provide the right educational interventions, but that we can intervene when necessary to improve the health of our children within our schools,” Picard added.