Toolkit for Improving Family Planning Services in School Settings

Partnership Strategies to Connect Students to Family Planning Services

Isabel Griffith, Samantha Ciaravino, Jennifer Manlove, Jenita Parekh, Katherine Cushing, Andrea Shore, & Donnie Greco

Connecting students to family planning services, both in and outside of schools, can reduce rates of unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), improve students’ access to services, and dispel misconceptions and stigma around contraceptive use. However, there may be significant barriers to accomplishing these goals, such as pushback from school administrators or community members, or insufficient resources. Leveraging Partnerships is one way for schools—regardless of whether they have school-based health centers (SBHCs)—to overcome hurdles to connecting students to family planning services. As such, we consider it to be one of four foundational approaches to school-based sexual health services highlighted in this toolkit.

This section of the toolkit highlights partnership strategies that have benefitted practitioners in two school contexts: schools that currently have an SBHC and schools that do not. The strategies are based on interviews with service providers and administrators from SBHCs, high schools, and community colleges across the United States.

Using This Tool



Adapting partnership strategies to your context

Needs Assessment Questions on Current Partnership Strategies at Your Site

Partnership Strategies for Schools Without School-Based Health Centers

Even when it is infeasible for a school to establish an SBHC, schools are still a critical access point to family planning for young people. Partnering with community health care providers can facilitate linkages to care. The strategies in this section focus on leveraging partnerships to connect students to family planning services, either on-site or within the community.

Partner with community organizations to provide sexual health education

Develop partnerships to refer students to local family planning clinics

Expand community partnerships to offer family planning services on or near school campuses

Partnership Strategies for Schools with School-Based Health Centers

In schools with SBHCs, partnerships can establish family planning services at SBHCs that did not previously offer these services, or enhance family planning services that an SBHC already provides. In this section, we describe strategies that practitioners have used to establish and improve family planning services at schools with SBHCs.

Establish community partnerships to provide long-acting reversible contraceptives

Partner with local health departments to provide STI testing and treatment

Partner with pharmacies to expand access to contraceptives

Strengthen collaborations between SBHC providers and school staff

Next Steps

Now think about next steps to increase partnerships around sexual health services and set some intentions. The following statements serve as prompts to help you identify your next steps.

Reflections on Goal Setting

1. Identify at least one new potential partnership that would benefit sexual health services provision within your school-based health setting over the next three months.

Think about new opportunities for partnership development related to sexual health service delivery in your SBHC. Ensure that your conversation identifies ways to reach all student populations.

2. Identify at least one existing partnership that could further improve sexual health services within your school-based health setting over the next three months.

Think about what is already happening within your SBHC around sexual health services partnerships engagement. Consider how an improved partner relationship could make services more efficient or more effective. What small change do you think would improve a key relationship? Test the idea. Then consider an additional small change.

You can view the Next Steps questions as a PDF form here.

This section of the toolkit is based on findings and content from the following brief: Ciaravino, S., Manlove, J., Parekh, J., Barnett, H., Kim, L., & Vazzano, A.  (2021). Family Planning Practitioner Perspectives on Developing Partnerships to Provide Services in Schools. Child Trends. Available here.

Suggested Citation

Griffith, I., Ciaravino, S., Manlove, J., Parekh, J., Cushing, K., Shore, A., & Greco, D. (2022). Leveraging partnerships. Child Trends.

This publication is supported by the Office of Population Affairs (OPA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $2,036,999 with 100 percent funded by OPA/OASH/HHS. The contents reflect the views of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement by, OPA/OASH/HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit