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Ohio Groups Make the Case for School-Based Health Care

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Monday, October 11, 2021   

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Children's advocacy groups are making the case that school-based health centers are a worthy investment for Ohio's kids.

Tracy Najera, executive director of the Children's Defense Fund-Ohio, said being able to get health-care needs met at school gives children and families a "medical home" for primary care and other services. She said a child's physical and mental wellness is foundational for success in academics and life.

"Especially during this pandemic, children and families have been struggling and truly suffering," she said. "Behavioral-health issues have reached crisis levels - and many children, in general, haven't been receiving their well-child visits."

Ohio has at least $3 billion in recovery funds from the American Rescue Plan Act not yet allocated, and the Ohio Children's Budget Coalition is asking the governor's office to invest $25 million per year over two years to help school districts around the state expand or establish school-based health programs. Najera said that investment could fund between 15 and 30 projects.

The convenience of a school-based health center not only helps improve access to care, Najera said, but it also reduces absenteeism.

"That's one less day of work that the parent misses, and one day less of school that a child is missing," she said. "So, really bringing the services to where the children are makes a whole lot of sense."

Najera added that the centers are a part of a "whole-child" agenda being promoted by the Ohio Children's Budget Coalition.

"Children need food, they need housing, they need education, they need health care - they need all these things to really thrive and flourish," she said. "Children don't come in pieces, and neither should our budget and policy decisions."

A new American Academy of Pediatrics report said the number of school-based health centers has more than doubled in the United States since 1998. There are more than 60 in Ohio schools.

Disclosure: Children's Defense Fund-OH Chapter/KIDS COUNT contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Education, Health Issues, Hunger/Food/Nutrition. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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