Kurka Children’s Health Fund
District Nursing Services is honored to work with and be supported by a non-profit organization founded by one of its own. The Children’s Health Fund was established over sixty years ago by former School Nurse, Administrator, and Director of Nursing, Kathryn L. Kurka, better known as Kay. Kay recognized the need for providing much needed health services to students whose parents and families could otherwise not afford it. She created the fund to help pay for eye examinations including eyeglasses, dental and medical care for needy LAUSD students. After Kay’s retirement, in recognition of all of her hard work and contributions, it was renamed in her honor from the Children’s Health Fund to the Kathryn L. Kurka Children’s Health Fund.
The mission of the Kurka Children’s Health Fund is to help the students of the Los Angeles Unified School District to be ready to learn by improving the health status of its most vulnerable children and youth. Since its inception, over 100,000 students have received assistance from the Kurka fund. School Nurses evaluate, identify, and refer students needing assistance by requesting Kurka funds to pay for health care services. The Fund’s volunteer Board works tirelessly year round to fundraise. One source of revenue is via the District’s Sharing Brings Hope Consolidated Charitable Campaign and regular payroll deductions. Additional sources of revenue include private donations and grants. The annual Kurka Children’s Health Fund Fashion Show Fundraiser was held on Saturday, April 21, 2018 at the Almansor Court in Alhambra. The event was attended by many former and current District Nursing Services, Student Medical Services, and Student Health and Human Services personnel. It was a tremendous success and the proceeds from the day will provide funding for over 1500 pairs of eyeglasses. Glasses are provided by a partnership between LAUSD, Kids Vision for Life, the Essilor Foundation, and the Kurka Children’s Health Fund.
Nursing Services thanks the Kurka Children’s Health Fund for their ongoing support of LAUSD students and Credentialed School Nurses.
Importance of School Nurses
School Nursing is a unique specialty within the field of nursing. School Nurses are Registered Nurses who hold a School Nurse Services Credential making them certificated employees. The role of the School Nurse has evolved over the years. The common perception of School Nurses dispensing Band-Aids and icepacks is far beyond their many responsibilities.
The California Teachers Association (CTA) recently highlighted the importance of School Nurses in the February/March issue of California Educator magazine in an article entitled “School Nurses’ Vital Roles.” The article discusses how the role of the School Nurse has changed over time. The School Nurse is responsible for every student on campus whether it is directly by providing them health services or indirectly via reviewing their immunization and other health care records. Many students today attend school with serious health issues such as epilepsy, diabetes, asthma, feeding tubes, ventilators, severe food allergies, cardiac problems, and a multitude of other acute and chronic illnesses which require intense case management and specialized physical care during the school day.
The article highlights two LAUSD School Nurses who have implemented innovative ideas at their schools or in their special programs. Nancy Semerjian is the School Nurse at Limerick Elementary School in Local District Northwest. One of Nancy’s concerns was the obesity epidemic facing our youth today. She applied for and received a $5000 grant from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and Kaiser Permanente which she used to convert a classroom into a gym for students. The gym features equipment such as treadmills, punching bags, yoga mats for yoga classes and much more. In addition, she started a five minute workout for all students every morning which is led by fifth graders over the intercom as well as establishing a lunchtime walking club. Through another grant she received known as Fire Up Your Feet she was able to get pedometers for students. The school’s goal this year is to beat last year’s goal of 5000 miles.
Also highlighted in the article is Yolanda Cuevas who oversees the Nurse Family Partnership (NFP) Program, an evidence-based program, which positively impacts the lives of vulnerable mothers, their babies and families. The home visiting program works with first time pregnant teens and follows them from the time of their pregnancy to the time the child turns two years of age. The nurses provide intensive education, support, and mentoring for the students with whom they work. Positive outcomes of this partnership include healthier pregnancies, learning effective parenting skills, and graduating high school. A recent graduate of the program stated “It’s hard being a young mom…but it’s been much easier having someone like nurse Yolanda to support me.” The student reported she plans on going to college and becoming a nurse herself.
You can read the full article by visiting the LAUSD Daily, LAUSD Shines section:
School nurses are essential in meeting students’ health needs – California Educator
Wednesday, May 9, 2018 is National School Nurse Day. Thank you to all of our School Nurses who despite the many challenges serve our students with professionalism and dedication each and every day. You are valued, you matter, and you make a difference in the lives of all children!
Nursing Services Oral Health Program’s mission is to improve the health, attendance, and academic achievement of all students by reducing dental disease. Through the Program’s efforts, students, parents, community members, teachers, and staff receive oral health education and resources for dental services which includes a dental screening, preventative care, and fluoride treatments for students. Tooth decay is one of the most common chronic diseases among American children. Tooth decay affect’s a child’s ability to eat, sleep, play, and learn in addition to negatively affecting their self-esteem and social development. By the third grade, tooth decay affects 71% of students in California. It is estimated that one in three school absences is dental related. This averages to 2.2 missed days of school per student each year. Data from previous screenings has shown that more than half of all LAUSD students screened had visible dental disease. The L.A. Trust for Children’s Health is a non-profit organization who works with the LAUSD to advocate for and assist in developing partnerships with community resources and agencies to bring much needed comprehensive healthcare programs to the highest needs students in the District. One such program is through the Trust’s Oral Health Initiative which is based on three strategic school-based oral health tiers which includes education, prevention, and access to care. With February being National Children’s Dental Health Month, the Trust held its third annual Tooth Fairy Convention on Saturday, February 10, 2018 from 10am to 2pm at Exposition Park. The event included oral health education; free screenings; nutritious food; live music and entertainment; children’s activities such as a bounce house, face painting, and games; exhibitors; and opportunity drawings for prizes.
Every Fall/Winter two exciting events take place for students with special needs. The Very Special Arts Festival is an inclusive event which celebrates the artistic achievements of students with all types of abilities. The event is put on by The Music Center in conjunction with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE). This year’s theme was Connecting Our Stories. At the festival, students showcased their artistic talents either through live performances or by displaying their artwork. The event was held at the Disney Concert Hall and was attended by more than 100 LA county schools. The second event was sponsored by a local education nonprofit organization known as The Friends of the Fulfillment Fund which empowers students from educationally and economically under-served communities to attend college and provides them with a financial means to do so. This year’s Holiday Party for Children with Disabilities was held at CBS Studios and was attended by over 250 LAUSD students. The celebration began with students being greeted at the entry, a soundstage that had been transformed into a Winter Wonderland. Students had the opportunity to have their photo taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus. This was followed by a variety show which included live music, singers, and other specialty entertainment. Students were provided a lunch and then participated in a dance party with young television and film stars. The event closed with each student being presented with a wrapped gift generously provided by Lakeshore Learning. Since many of the students who attended these events have specialized physical health care needs, School Nurses accompanied them to assist them with their health needs. Each year, both of these events give students with special needs an opportunity to participate in festive activities which brings them much joy. The School Nurses were honored to be able to attend to give many of our special needs students the opportunity to participate in a very memorable experience.
District Nursing Services has partnerships with a variety of non-profit organizations which provide vital health related services to the students of the LAUSD. These services are often delivered via mobile clinics which visit school sites to provide direct care to students at school thereby minimizing the amount of instructional time the student misses. Vision to Learn (VTL) provides free comprehensive eye examinations and eyeglasses to students. Queenscare School-Based Healthcare provides no-cost dental and vision services at schools where 75% or more of the students qualify for the free or reduced lunch program. The COACH for Kids Program is funded by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and is comprised of a team of Registered Nurses (RNs), Nurse Practitioners, Social Workers, and other healthcare professionals who provide comprehensive services such as medical care, case management, mental health services, dental care, and nutrition and fitness education. Big Smiles offers preventive dental care services such as cleaning, x-rays, fluoride treatments, and sealants as well as restorative care such as fillings and simple extractions. In addition, they visit classrooms to provide essential oral health education. If you are interested in learning more or receiving any of the aforementioned at your school, please contact the School Nurse, the Local District Nursing Office, or District Nursing Services at (213) 202-7580.
District Nursing Services, Nurse-Family Partnership Program celebrated its fourth graduation for the class of 2016/2017 school year at Ramona High School. Fifteen young ladies completed a 2 year commitment partnered with an LAUSD School Nurse Home Visitation program. Each young lady was honored with a certificate from the office of Hilda Solis. The celebration concluded with a wonderful lunch in their honor that included their children, guest and snapshots to commemorate the occasion.
For more success stories, visit www.nursefamilypartnership.org
Immunizations are one of the most significant success stories of modern medicine. Prior to its advent, many vaccine preventable illnesses caused serious morbidity or mortality. California School Immunization law, requires children to receive certain immunizations in order to enroll in and attend child care centers (pre-school), elementary and secondary schools. Credentialed School Nurses monitor and verify students’ immunizations regularly, make referrals for students needing additional vaccines, and complete a required state annual immunization status report. During the past few years, Student Health and Human Services (SHHS) staff have worked collaboratively to ensure students and schools are in compliance with the state’s immunization requirements. As a result, immunization compliance rates have progressively increased from one school year to the next. At present, the District’s compliance rates for all of the Kindergarten immunizations and for 7th grade Tdap is 97% and 99.0% respectively, while during this same time period for the 2016-2017 school year, the rates were 95% and 97% respectively. Thank you for your continued support in reaching our immunization compliance goal.
To download the Immunization Awareness Flyer, click here.
Vaccines and Immunizations, Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Immunization Requirements, Shots for School
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