About the CoP


Communities of Practice

"are groups of people who share expertise and passion about a topic and interact on an ongoing basis to further their learning ... members typically solve problems, discuss insights and share information ... develop tools and frameworks … and over time, these mutual interactions and relationships build up a shared body of knowledge and a sense of identity". (Wenger, McDermott, & Snyder, 2002)

About the CoP

The DC School Behavioral Health Community of Practice (CoP) was launched in September 2019 to support the District’s phased expansion of school-based behavioral health services in the District’s public and public charter schools. The DC CoP provides a learning community for the school professionals, community leaders, and clinicians from participating Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) who jointly conduct school-based activities and services designed to promote healthy development and wellbeing for all students and their families.

The DC CoP convenes regular meetings to build knowledge, support implementation of best practices in school behavioral health, and solve problems of practice. Additional learning activities (e.g., webinars, trainings) around topics selected by the community members are also offered. In addition, the community has developed Practice Groups that focus on a specific area of interest, including Family and Youth Engagement, Positive School Climate and Social-Emotional Learning Implementation, Crisis Response and Intervention, and Trauma-Informed Practices in Schools. The Practice Groups help to deepen understanding in a given area and share that learning with the rest of the community. The DC CoP is open to all school personnel, CBOs, and clinicians who are part of the expansion.

Our Goal

The goal of the DC CoP is to advance a comprehensive school behavioral health system, a strategic collaboration between school personnel, community mental health providers, students, and families to create a positive school culture that provides timely access to high-quality, reliable supports for children, youth, and their families. Within this system, school-based teams offer a full array of trauma-informed, culturally- responsive, evidence-based tiered interventions to promote wellness, identify challenges early, and offer treatment services when necessary so that all children and youth succeed and thrive.

Our Shared Vision

The DC CoP shared vision was developed by members of the DC CoP beginning in November 2019 and finalized in May 2020. Thank you to the DC CoP members who contributed to the development of our shared vision.

“We are a diverse community of people who share expertise and passion for the wellbeing of students, families and school communities. Together, we model collaboration and build capacity to support school-based teams in engaging partners to create safe and supportive school environments, and implementing interdisciplinary practices that improve mental health and wellbeing.

As we move toward a thriving school community, we mobilize resources, ensure equitable access, align services, and promote culturally-responsive interventions within schools and across DC. We know we are having an impact when participating DCPS and DC Public Charter Schools demonstrate improvement on agreed upon outcomes (e.g., positive school climate; social emotional wellbeing; student, family and community engagement; and eliminating achievement gaps).”

The DC CoP is supported by the Department of Behavioral Health (DBH), the Center for Health and Health Care in Schools (CHHCS) at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University, the District of Columbia Public Schools, the District of Columbia Public Charter School Board, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, and CRP, Inc.

Additional Resources

District of Columbia Coordinating Council on School Behavioral Health

School Behavioral Health Program (DBH) – This DBH’s webpage includes a link to an up-to-date list of CBO and DBH clinicians by the school.