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

Julia Graham Lear, School of Public Health and Health Services, George Washington University

This report explores the options and issues associated with the potential launch of a new school health center initiative in 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. In 2007, 146 centers provided primary care and mental health services to children in elementary, middle, and high school settings, primarily focusing on low-income children.

Governor Schwarzenegger set a goal of increasing 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 2007 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 and 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.

The complete report is available under Document Downloads.

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