February is National School-Based Health Care Awareness Month – an opportunity to recognize success and raise awareness about how school-based health centers (SBHCs) are transforming health care delivery across the country!

School-based Health Centers (SBHCs) are a great community resource and play an active role in providing health care for children. According to the School-Based Health Alliance, there are over 2,300 SBHCs nationwide, and Children’s National partners with local departments of health to operate SBHCs across Washington, D.C. and Maryland. SBHCs provide a range of services, including immunizations, well-child visits, sick visits, dental care, care coordination and others. SBHCs provide support to your child in a school setting. Let’s talk about various ways SBHCs support your child’s health and how you as a parent or guardian can actively engage with the health professionals at the SBHC in your child’s school setting.

Primary care services

SBHCs provide many of the same services you would find in your child’s primary care offices. Students can receive immunizations, complete well-child visits, health education, dental care and other services. Some families choose to use SBHCs as the primary care provider for their child, and others continue to see their primary care provider but use the SBHCs so that their child can have acute illness issues addressed in school without having to miss school. Parents and guardians have to enroll their child in the SBHC, and the SBHC will communicate with you about any non-confidential visits that your child has to the center. This is a great opportunity for parents to build relationships with the health care providers in the SBHC and stay informed about their child’s health in school.

Mental health and oral health services

In addition to providing primary care services, many SBHCs also provide access to mental health counseling and dental services. SBHCs often provide dental services such as routine cleanings and dental sealants.

Care coordination services

Another way you can engage with the health professionals at your child’s SBHC is by actively participating in comprehensive care coordination to better support your child’s acute or chronic conditions. SBHCs can help with care coordination among school staff and medical specialists, and can help implement health accommodations for your child in school.

SBHCs are an effective way to provide your child access to care while they are in school. SBHCs are a vital part of the healthcare network for children, and Children’s National is committed to meeting children where they are – in school. If your child’s school has a SBHC, please stop by to learn more about how you can enroll your child in the SBHC and the services they provide!

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Danielle Dooley, MD, is a pediatrician at Children’s National and Medical Director of Community Affairs and Population Health in the Child Health Advocacy Institute (CHAI).
Mareesha Walker, MSA, CHES is the Community Education Specialist for the Child Health Advocacy Institute (CHAI) with the Department of Advocacy and Community Affairs.

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