School-based health centers across the nation are getting a much-needed boost. Last week, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the availability of funding for the construction and renovation of school-based health centers.
Up to $75 million will go towards improving school-based health centers. The investment is part of the School-Based Health Center Capital (SBHCC) Program, which was created by the Affordable Care Act, the health care law of 2010.
Officials at HHS said that the centers enable children with acute or chronic illnesses to attend school as well as help improve the overall health and wellness of children and adolescents through health screenings, health promotion and disease prevention activities.
“President Obama’s health care law is helping keep kids healthy, and as a mother, I know how important a child’s health is to how they do in school. Whether establishing a new site or upgrading an existing facility, the availability of funding for school-based health centers that we’re announcing today will help kids more easily get the health services they need to thrive,” said Sebelius. “The goal is to keep our children healthy so they can learn, grow and prosper.”
The Affordable Care Act appropriated $200 million for the SBHCC Program to address capital needs in school-based health centers. The funding opportunity announced is the third in a series of awards that will be made available to school-based health centers through the Affordable Care Act. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) oversees the SBHCC Program.
“It is critical for children and adolescents to be healthy so they can maximize their potential, and being healthy starts with access to primary and preventive care,” said HRSA Administrator Mary K. Wakefield, Ph.D., R.N. “These grants will greatly improve that access and help make our children and America’s future strong.”
The funding will have a great impact on school-based health centers. According to the New York State Coalition for School-Based Health Centers, there are currently 220 centers throughout New York State in rural, suburban and urban areas. Nearly 200,000 students are served in centers throughout the state.
School-based health centers in the state are run by the New York State Department of Health’s School Health Unit. The coalition said that health centers in schools are crucial to undeserved students and that lack of financing creates limitations on the type of care they can offer.
“Numerous school-based health centers across the state are in need of significant contributions from foundations, individuals and corporations to establish a school-based health center given high start-up costs and limited revenue generation,” the coalition said in a recent report. “Without adequate start-up costs, a center will not be able to open its doors.”