More than 275 school districts, clinics, and hospitals that run school-based health centers nationwide have learned that they had won a share of $95 million in federal grant money that will allow them to reach hundreds of thousands more patients, many of whom live in low-income communities.
The centers, which serve about 790,000 patients, will be able to boost their overall capacity by 440,000 patients with the grants, federal officials said as they announced the recipients last month. The 278 winners were chosen from 356 applicants through a program created by the health-care law enacted last year.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan hailed the grants as potentially life-changing for some students and noted his own experience with such centers when he was schools chief in Chicago.
“Children, simply, if they’re not healthy, they cannot learn,” Mr. Duncan told reporters in a conference call.
Supporters say school-based health centers, which have been in some communities for decades, can make it possible for children with severe and chronic illnesses to attend school and can improve the health of the entire student population through health screenings, health promotion, and disease-prevention activities.
U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said it can be difficult for some children to get health care because of challenges in scheduling and paying for doctor visits. Working parents and families without cars may have an especially hard time getting their children medical care, she told reporters during the same call.
The remaining grant money in the $200 million School-Based Health Center Capital Program will be awarded over the next two years. Each grant was limited to $500,000, and each application could include up to 10 projects.
The money from the program can be used only for construction and equipment for new and existing school-based health centers, not operating costs. Applicants had to show that they could provide enough staff to match their capacity, although other grant money from the Health Resources and Services Administration, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, is available for school-based health centers.
A version of this article appeared in the August 10, 2011 edition of Education Week as School-Based Health Centers to Share $95 Million in Grants