School-based health centers (SBHCs) got a potential boost this week with the passage of health care reform legislation, which calls for the creation of a federal grant program to support SBHCs. The bill also includes $200 million in funding for the next two years.SBHCs are health clinics located within schools. They provide a range of physical and behavioral health care services. They are usually developed as a partnership between the school district and local medical and mental health providers.
The benefits of school-based health care programs are well-documented. Studies have shown that school-based health centers can significantly decrease absenteeism. School-based mental health programs have been linked to a decline in school discipline referrals. One study showed that school-based health centers reduced inappropriate emergency care among those who use SBHCs regularly.
Another recent study published in the Journal of School Health showed a correlation between schools with a school-based health center and the school’s learning environment. The analysis found that schools with SBHCs had more favorable ratings on three of the four elements: academic expectations, communications and school engagement. The findings reinforce what many of us know intuitively: Kids learn better when they are healthy.
Under a four-year initiative, the Colorado Health Foundation supports creating and expanding school-based health care programs throughout the state. The investment underscores our belief that schools are an ideal place to provide physical, behavioral and oral health services to children who might otherwise not have access to care. School-based health services are also a key piece of our Healthy Schools framework. Learn more about school-based health centers.