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HHS announces new investment in school-based health centers

By Kate Blocher,

07.19.2011

Last week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced awards of $95 million to 278 school-based health centers across the country.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, along with Education Secretary Arne Duncan, made the announcement, with Secretary of Education Duncan noting:

We know that if kids aren’t healthy then kids can’t learn … These grants will make it a lot easier for working moms and dads to help get their children the health care they need and deserve. This unprecedented investment in school-based health care will bring communities closer together and help children succeed in the classroom.

The award money is part of $200 million appropriated through the Affordable Care Act for the School-Based Health Center Capital Program to address needs in school-based health centers from 2010 to 2013. In order to be eligible, applicants must be defined as a school-based health center or a sponsoring facility of a school-based health center as outlined in the Social Security Act. All applicants were screened and ranked based on criteria established in the grant guidance. For a list of all 278 awardees, check here.

It is interesting to note that opponents of the Affordable Care Act attempted to defund this provision with a House vote earlier this year, but were unsuccessful. With this new investment, the capacity of student health centers nationwide will be increased substantially and hundreds of thousands more children will have access to health screenings, preventive services, and education about their health. This will help to improve the health of our nation’s kids and prepare them to do well in school.

As Health Resources and Services Administration Administrator Mary K. Wakefield, Ph.D., R.N. remarked, “Healthy children are better able to learn and succeed in school… These grants will improve access to care for children, and help maximize their potential to learn.”

Sounds like a ringing endorsement for school-based health centers to me!