Serving Vulnerable and At-Risk Populations
Vulnerable and at-risk populations refer to children, youth, students, and schools that are most vulnerable or at risk of disparities in access, service use, and outcomes. For the SS/HS Initiative, vulnerable populations are defined by race or ethnicity or by sex or gender and include other such groups as foster youth; English language learners; youth who are lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender, or questioning; disconnected youth; families that are homeless or in transition; and youth at risk for sexual exploitation. Identification of high-risk, vulnerable subpopulations involves increasing the quality and use of data collection on race, ethnicity, sex, primary language, and disability status, as required by Section 4302 of the Affordable Care Act of 2010. State, tribal, and community collaborative teams must also engage in knowledge development on how to utilize their detailed State, tribal, and local data to inform priorities, planning, and selection of effective and culturally responsive programs, interventions, policies, and other strategies that target disparities. Furthermore, with the support of timely and detailed evaluation and performance feedback, collaborative quality improvement teams can learn to monitor and adjust their programs and track the progress of how strategies and activities are decreasing differences in access, service use, and outcomes for their high-risk populations of focus.