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It's Elementary: Expanding the Use of School-Based Clinics

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Publication Date: October 2007

Publisher(s): California HealthCare Foundation

Author(s): Julia Graham Lear

Topic: Health (Hospitals and other health care facilities)

Type: Report

Coverage: California


School-based health centers have existed in California since the late 1980s, when the first centers were established in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Jose. At present, 146 centers provide primary care and mental health services to children in elementary, middle, and high school settings, primarily focusing on low-income children. Governor Schwarzenegger now intends to increase the number of school-based health centers in California to 500 elementary school sites. This expansion has the potential to increase access to care for children, improve clinical outcomes, and save money for public and private payers of child health services. This report draws on the past experience of California and other states in instituting these centers. The report looks at the role of health centers in providing care, describes their characteristics, including where they are located, what services they provide, the ethnicity of those served, and how the services are paid for. It also provides key lessons for expansion, including the importance of establishing a clearly defined model and the benefits of having a strong school health center association.