Grants make school a medical home for more children

July 28, 2011

For many kids, their medical home is at school. A $95 million grant from the Department of Health and Human Services to 278 school-based health centers this month means 440,000 more children will be able to get the primary care, mental health services, dental exams, health education, and chronic disease monitoring they need?without having to miss hours of class time.

For many kids, their medical home is at school. And, with the $95 million awarded by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to 278 school-based health centers (SBHCs) this month, 440,000 more children will be able to get the primary care, mental health services, dental exams, health education, and chronic disease monitoring they need-without having to miss hours of class time.

“We know that if kids aren’t healthy then kids can’t learn,” said US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “These grants will make it a lot easier for working moms and dads to help get their children the health care they need and deserve.”

“The academic success of America’s youth is strongly linked with their health,” noted the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on School Health, which provides resources for pediatricians who work with or in school-based health centers and support school districts in other ways.

SBHCs like Alabama’s Health Establishments at Local Schools (HEALS), one of the HHS award winners, provide health care for underserved children through collaboration between the local medical community-particularly pediatricians, hospitals, and laboratories-and the Huntsville City school system.

The awards from HHS are part of $200 million appropriated by the Affordable Care Act for School-Based Health Center Capital Program. The funds will “allow SBHCs to switch over to electronic medical records, purchase dental equipment to provide oral health services, help build new clinics or expand or improve existing space, and more,” said Linda Juszczak, executive director of the National Assembly on School-Based Health Care (NASBHC).

“These grants will improve access to care for children, and help maximize their potential to learn,” added Mary Wakefield, PhD, RN, administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration, which administers the funds.

The nation’s nearly 2,000 SBHCs currently serve about 2 million students, without regard to ability to pay.

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