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“Funding and Presence Implications of School-Based Health Centers (SBHCs) for Academic Improvement”

Author: Terrice Randolph

Department: UIC Institute for Policy & Civic Engagement

Advisor: Dr. Joseph K. Hoereth, IPCE


In the United States, children and adolescents, those who reside in underserved, low-income communities are faced with physical and mental health challenges that directly and indirectly impact their health and well-being as well as educational performance. As a result, school-based health centers (SBHCs) were introduced to relieve these health threats. SBHCs act as a safety net in providing basic primary health care services with occasional mental health and dental care services (Gustafson 2005). The services among SBHCs vary and are tailored to specifically meet the needs of the community. In the United States, approximately 57% of SBHCs are located in urban areas, 27% in rural areas, and 16% in suburban areas (Arenson et al., 2019). In an urban context setting, Chicago has 33 SBHCs is currently in operation of the 66 certified school-based health centers operating in Illinois. The purpose of this research is to cross-examine health and education to understand the health disparities among children and adolescents in low-income communities in the United States, but concentration on Chicago as an urban context setting. In addition, analyze the financial support of SBHCs to propose better funding capabilities that in turn affect the quality of care on the services provided. The Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA) was able to provide a second wave of growth and expansion of school-based health centers across the nation, including Illinois. The ACA appropriated about $200 million to improve the delivery and services of SBHCs by recognizing them as a federally authorized program (Kohm et al., 2019; Ran et al., 2016). Despite this, the funding support was a one-time occurrence. However, since, there has been momentum seen in the funding and financial support for SBHCs. Across the United States, there continues to be a discrepancy in regards to specific criteria and requirements to receive funds and/or reimbursement from services offered by SBHCs. There is a need to refine criteria and requirements for Medicaid reimbursement. The implementation of a strictly nationwide funding policy in support of the existing SBHCs and expansion of new SBHCs would sustain and improve operations. Following, a consistent, yet simple funding process for all states to act in accordance with will reduce the extensive amount of documentation needed in order to receive additional funding. Some states require more reporting to receive federal financial assistance. Overall, the public funding towards SBHCs needs to become more flexible. SBHCs are creating better access to quality health care in underserved, low-income communities for children and adolescents striving towards health equity. They help in seeking to achieve educational outcomes such as improved school performance, grade promotion, and high school completion (Health equity: School-Based Health Centers 2020). In addition, it is important to acknowledge the part policymaking and legislative bodies largely play a part in the expansion of SBHCs (Arenson et al., 2019).

Keywords: school-based health center, funding, Chicago, low-income, children, education, health disparities, affordable care act, Illinois, United States, health service