School-based health centers are clinics located within school buildings or on school campuses, which provide primary medical and behavioral health care to youth. Centers may also have oral health providers, substance abuse treatment providers, nutritionists, health educators, and Medicaid/CHIP enrollment specialists as part of their staff. Typically, school-based health centers are located in schools where a high proportion of students qualify for free or reduced school lunches as this often coincides with the students being either un- or underinsured. Many centers are also located in federally-designated health care provider shortage areas.
School-based health care has been in place for over 35 years and currently, there are over 2,000 centers in 46 states. In Colorado, school-based health care is in a growth phase thanks to a four-year, $10.8 million School-Based Health Care Initiative funded by The Colorado Health Foundation. As of fall 2012, there are 52 centers in the state and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment awards just over $1 million in contracts each year.
For people new to this type of health care delivery system, what’s most important to know is that school-based health centers “get” integrated care. It’s what they do, each and every day. School-based health centers must work effectively with families, school systems, medical and behavioral health systems, community health partners and state Medicaid entities in order to deliver services to the children and youth coming into their centers. Their focus on prevention and health promotion means they are well-positioned to address many of the public health priorities set by the Centers for Disease Control – more commonly referred to as Winnable Battles. By offering care in the school setting students can avoid unnecessary absences from school and their parents can avoid taking time away from work.
School-based health centers are vital partners to our health care delivery system. To learn more about the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s School-Based Health Center Program, please contact Jo English at 303.692.2386 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
RFA and Attachments POSTED March 1, 2013
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