Public schools are providing healthcare as well as education to students across the U.S., as in-school health centers grow in number. Illinois saw nine open during the 2009-10 academic year alone, bringing its total to 60 school-based clinics, according to the Chicago Tribune.
School-based health centers have been found to lower emergency room visits and hospitalizations, therefore, reducing overall healthcare costs, Divya Mohan Little, project director for the Illinois Coalition for School Health Centers, told the newspaper. What's more, the passage of the Affordable Care Act earlier this year likely will boost the growth of such centers nationwide. The ACA's Grants for School-Based Health Centers Capital Program plans to award about $100 million for 200 or more grants in 2011 for the construction, renovation, and/or equipment expenses of school-based health clinics, according to the National Assembly on School-Based Health Care. The application deadline was Dec. 1.
"There have been more and more principals who are interested in having a school-based health center," Jaime Dircksen, manager of Family and Community Partnerships at the CPS Coordinated School Health Unit, told the Tribune.
Along with lessening the burden of the nation's healthcare system, such centers help to improve student attendance and health literacy, according to KPBS.
"The clinic is right here, [students] don't have to miss school," Cindy Martin, Principal of Central Elementary School in City Heights, Calif., said of its newly opened health center to KPBS. "I'm expecting our attendance to go up 2 percent. That's 2 percent more of my kids in school every day taking advantage of the education that I'm providing."