About School-Based Health Centers

School-based health centers (SBHCs) impact students and families in profound ways. They can get immediate help on campus for acute and chronic conditions as well as preventative care. The result: kids stay in school and teachers focus on what they do best, teach. (Read more about why School-Based Health Centers Are a Great Idea).

A Growing School-Based Health Care Movement

We are working toward the day in which all students have access to a school-based health center.

In 2000, California had 108 SBHCs; today, there are 293 with more in the works. In the last year, nearly 10,000 children gained access to health care in their school through the expansion of SBHCs. Across California, more than 286,000 students attend a school that has a health center, and many more have access to other types of school health services.

The number of SBHCs continues to grow because school districts and communities understand that investing in healthy kids supports increased opportunities for successful students.

SBHCs are usually located directly on a school campus and provide primary care like any health clinic. Staff vary in size, and typically includes nurse practitioners, nurses, mental health providers, as well as part-time physicians and medical students. Services are provided at no or low cost. No one is refused service for inability to pay.

School-Based Health Centers Are Effective

SBHCs are effective because they put health care where students already spend most of their time – at school. They offer:

  • Enhanced access to health care by bringing it directly to where students and families are and conducting active school-based outreach to connect students with care.
  • Stronger prevention and population health by connecting clinical care with public health approaches such as group and classroom education, school wide screenings and prevention programs, or efforts to address the social determinants of health.
  • Intensive support for the highest need students by being present on a daily basis to manage chronic disease, address behavioral health issues, deal with crises, and help students and families access resources.
  • Support for the school’s mission to improve academic achievement by working together to address absenteeism, school climate, and classroom behavior and performance.
  • Integration into the health care system by communicating and coordinating care with other providers and payers.

Research has shown, and teachers and educators intuitively know, that healthier children are better students because they are able to focus in class and are not distracted by hunger, pain, stress, or a chronic illness.

Read about Nathan, Kenny and Brittany – three students whose lives have been transformed by their SBHCs.