WHAT are SBHCs?
School based health centers (SBHCs) are primary care centers that blend medical care with behavioral health, psychosocial and prevention services. Community members work in concert to determine the types of services needed and the provider resources available to deliver those services most effectively. Physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses and social workers are examples of the practitioners who work in SBHCs or collaborate with SBHCs to ensure appropriate referrals are provided. Through this collaborative effort, centers significantly increase access to services and improve the overall health of children and adolescents.
More than 5000 students, staff and families currently benefit from services at 9 Georgia SBHCs
WHY do we need SBHCs?
Georgia ranks 42nd in the nation on child wellbeing. That means our children are at increased risk for health and mental health challenges, as well as academic underachievement and school dropout. Plus, nearly 240,000 of them are uninsured and have limited access to health care. Even families with health insurance experience significant challenges accessing quality care due to work schedules, availability of medical personnel, and cost of co-pays and deductibles. Approximately 320,000 children miss more than 10 days of school each year due to illness. SBHC services help keep children in school and out of emergency rooms, plus they can keep parents at work while remaining in close contact as the center removes barriers to services in underserved areas. As a result, healthcare costs for underserved populations have decreased and academic outcomes and school climate have improved.
Do SBHCs WORK?
More specifically, SBHC services have been demonstrated to improve health outcomes, academic achievement and cost benefits in Georgia and beyond:
- Reduced emergency room use and hospitalizations for children with asthma
- Reduced cost of pediatric health care for Medicaid and Peachcare, as well as for private insurers. The average cost per child to Medicaid was reduced more than 50% for children with SBHC access at the Whitefoord site.
- Improved school attendance (decrease in absenteeism). At the Lake Forest site, 50% of the students referred to the SBHC returned to class – without the SBHC, these students would have been sent home.
- Decreased time away from work for parents
- Decreased prescription drug use
- Increased use of mental health and substance abuse services; decreased school discipline referrals
For more information on finding out if your school is a great location for a School Based Health Center, please contact Ruth Starling Ellis, Program Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.