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Citation:Center for Mental Health in Schools. (1999). Expanding educational reform to address barriers to learning: Restructuring student support services and enhancing school-community partnerships. Los Angeles, CA: Center for Mental Health in Schools.

This conceptual paper outlines the need for comprehensive service delivery systems that reduce barriers to learning. The authors contend that most learning, behavioral, and emotional problems seen in schools are rooted in external and internal barriers to learning that have not been adequately addressed. While many schools currently offer school-owned or coordinated community services, most services are not truly integrated into the work of the school. Current school reform efforts generally focus on only two areasÑimproving instruction and improving governanceÑwithout addressing the barriers to learning that students bring to school. Identifying these barriers could be considered the third facet of school reform; that is, an "enabling" (or learner support) component. A true integration of services would result in programs aimed at enhancing student assets, intervening early to address emerging problems, and caring for those with chronic and severe problems. Developing this continuum of services requires weaving school and community resources together in ways that can only be achieved through formal connections in which major responsibilities are shared with a cohesive set of policies to support them. This article also includes how-to information about developing partnerships and analyzing the school boardÕs role in restructuring.

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