Full-Service Schools

Previous definitions and models have culminated in the full-service schools model (Dryfoos, 1994). A full-service school is the center for collocating a wide range of health, mental health, social, and/or family services into a one-stop, seamless institution. The exact nature and configuration of services and resources offered will vary from place to place, but services should thoroughly address the unique needs of each particular school and community—hence the title “full-service schools. ”

According to this model, a full-service school provides a quality education for students that includes individualized instruction, team teaching, cooperative learning, a healthy school climate, alternatives to tracking, parental involvement, and effective discipline. The school and/or community agencies provide comprehensive health education, health promotion, social skills training, and preparation for the world of work.

A distinguishing feature of this model is the broad spectrum of services to be provided at the school site by community agencies. Some examples of these various services include:

  • Health services: health and dental screening, nutrition, and weight management.

  • Mental health services: individual counseling, crisis intervention, and substance abuse treatment and follow-up.

  • Family welfare and social services: family planning; child care; parent literacy; employment training; legal services; basic services for housing, food, and clothing; and recreation and cultural activities.


The preceding discussion of definitions and models is not intended to be exhaustive. Other worthy definitions and models may exist, and any exclusion from this discussion is not intended to minimize their importance. Instead, the purpose of the preceding discussion is to illustrate the diversity of definitions that exist and to emphasize that as these models and definitions have evolved, they tend to become more complex and appear to demand more from the schools and community.

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