Funding School-Based Health Care

California’s school health services and school-based health centers (SBHCs) are financed through a variety of sources. These sources include: reimbursement from public insurance programs and private health plans; local, state, and federal grants; philanthropic foundations; and in-kind contributions from schools districts and other partners. There are other factors that contribute to SBHC sustainability, such as utilization and quality of SBHC services. As you seek new funding sources, be sure to also review our Recommendations for Sustaining SBHCs.

Every SBHC does things differently, but many are sponsored by community health providers. Community health providers are knowledgeable about health-related funding opportunities and can help schools access critical dollars as they start or expand health services. Medical providers can bill public health insurance for medical and dental care. Mental health providers can sometimes get reimbursed for counseling services delivered to students who qualify for Medi-Cal. Many community health providers can also access health-related grant funding. So, many clinical services may be delivered at little to no cost to the school.

That said, even schools with strong health partners will likely want to provide some services that often can’t be funded by community health providers—e.g., case management, classroom-based health education, mentoring, after school programs, and teacher consultation. SBHCs will therefore need to look for other funding opportunities, including through education funding streams.

For additional information and tools on financing your school health services see:

The Center for Health and Health Care in Schools also offers useful financing resources:

Financing School Mental Health

Federal Funding Guide for Social/Emotional Learning

The Center for Health and Health Care in Schools has developed this guide written by education and mental health policy experts highlighting federal education funding that could support school-based universal prevention and social emotional learning programs. Download the guide.

Developing a Business Plan for Sustaining School Mental Health Services

The Center for Health and Health Care in Schools has developed this resource for creating a financially sustainable school mental health program. It includes detailed case studies from across the country, as well as more general advice and recommendations for maximizing revenue to pay for student mental health services.