School-Based Health Care

School-based health care is founded on the belief that health, learning, and success in school are interconnected.

School-based health centers (SBHCs) were first established in the 1970s, and have experienced a rapid and significant rise in numbers since then. Today, there are over 1,900 in 45 states, with more than 60 school health centers in North Carolina alone.

School-based health care is widely considered one of the most cost-effective strategies for delivering health care, including mental health and prevention services, to adolescents – an often hard-to-reach population with many diverse health needs. Services are convenient – located on school campus – affordable and confidential, minimizing many of the barriers to health care access for students, such as scheduling, transportation and financial barriers.

Benefits of School-based health care

SBHCs offer numerous benefits and potential benefits to students, families, schools and communities including:

  • Providing convenient, age-appropriate, confidential care in a familiar setting to many adolescents, especially males, who may be reluctant to use traditional medical care.
  • Improving access to care for students who may not otherwise receive care elsewhere.
  • Connecting students and their families to primary care practices/medical homes.
  • Improving students’ academic performance and school attendance, and reducing student discipline referrals.
  • Encouraging parental/caregiver participation in their children’s health care.
  • Serving as a resource for the health care needs of adolescents.
  • Minimizing lost classroom time for students and lost work time for parents.
  • Improving follow-up compliance with care.
  • Providing an opportunity for adolescents to seek out or take advantage of services, whereas they may not otherwise in traditional settings.
  • Providing behavioral risk assessments and ongoing preventive strategies, especially through on-site mental health services, in collaboration with school staff
  • Providing schools with a valuable resource during emergencieis/crises with trained medical and mental health staff on-site.
  • Collaborating with schools, local primary care practices, and other community agencies.
  • Reducing overall health care costs.

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