On Tuesday, February 12, The Children’s Aid Society will join an estimated 600 student and parent advocates from around the state for a day of advocacy at Empire State Plaza in Albany to encourage support for school-based health centers (SBHCs), the cost-effective, preventive health centers that deliver onsite care to an estimated 185,000 schoolchildren in New York State each year.
In his proposed 2013-2014 state budget, Gov. Cuomo consolidates SBHC funding with 25 other programs in a lump sum appropriation totaling $114 million, a move that makes unclear the amount of funding to be allocated for these vital health clinics. Advocates will call on legislators to provide language in the final budget to ensure that New York State’s 228 SBHCs receive funding at last year’s level of $21.7 million.
“Providing comprehensive care to underserved children in the school setting prevents health issues from becoming acute concerns in the home, emergency room or community,” said Katherine Eckstein, director of public policy at The Children’s Aid Society. “As a result, children miss fewer days of school and working parents miss fewer days on the job.”
Currently, 126 SBHCs serve 278 schools in the five boroughs of New York City; 33% of students served are black and 44% are Latino. Children’s Aid operates five SBHCs in Upper Manhattan—with a sixth slated for opening at Curtis High School on Staten Island in the fall—serving nearly 4,000 patients in 2012.
As New York State implements Medicaid reform, advocates will also urge legislators to hold SBHCs financially harmless by guaranteeing that SBHCs continue to be a key component of every child’s medical home, providing children full access to all the services offered by their SBHC.
Many children and families rely on SBHCs as their only source for counseling, health screening, dental care, reproductive care, physical exams and immunizations. A decade of research on SBHCs around the nation has shown them to be cost-effective investments of public resources, preventing costly ER visits and hospitalizations and lowering inpatient, non-emergency costs among Medicaid-covered children. Other demonstrated benefits include improved school attendance; healthier lifestyles and school environments; reduced teen pregnancy rates; and increased access to health, mental health, dental and preventive health care among children and teens who would otherwise lack it.
“In his State of the State address, the governor prioritized school reform that provides children and families in ‘distressed’ communities all the services they need, including health care and clinics,” Eckstein said. “Today, we call on our leaders to translate this vision into action by securing the future of this successful, cost-effective model of care.”
About The Children’s Aid Society
The Children’s Aid Society is an independent, not-for-profit organization established to serve the children of New York City. Our mission is to help children in poverty to succeed and thrive. We do this by providing comprehensive supports to children and their families in targeted high-needs diNew York City neighborhoods. Founded in 1853, it is one of the nation’s largest and most innovative non-sectarian agencies, serving New York’s neediest children. Services are provided in community schools, neighborhood centers, health clinics and camps. For additional information, please call Anthony Ramos at (212) 949-4938/ (917) 204-8214, email email@example.com or visit www.childrensaidsociety.org.