School Health

School Health

Healthy Schools Campaign ensures all students have access to healthcare by supporting states and school districts as they expand school health services and by fostering cross-sector collaboration.

Schools Are Essential to Improving Health Outcomes

The education system provides healthcare for millions of children across the country, particularly children of color in low-income communities. The COVID-19 pandemic and school closures have revealed in a new way the importance of critical school health services. Numerous studies show that access to school health services improves health and academic outcomes, such as reduced emergency room utilization and chronic absenteeism, particularly for children with chronic health problems.

1 in 4 children has a chronic health issue

One in four U.S. children has a chronic physical or mental health issue that affects their ability to succeed in the classroom—double the national rate from 30 years ago. Rates are even higher for students in underserved communities, particularly students of color. This undermines efforts to close the opportunity gap.

Health professionals increasingly have recognized schools as the ideal setting to achieve many of healthcare providers’ fundamental objectives: early prevention, disease management, reducing per-capita healthcare costs, reducing emergency room usage and improving overall quality of care. Schools also offer an invaluable opportunity to provide primary healthcare treatment to vulnerable and underserved populations.

These factors have made schools the frontline in improving children’s health outcomes. Yet more than half of public schools do not have a full-time school nurse or school counselor, and less than 5 percent of U.S. students have access to services through a school-based health center.

But we can fix that. There are opportunities for schools districts, states, health and education officials and the federal government to increase access to school health services.

For example, a 2014 federal policy change vastly expanded the number of school-based health services that can be reimbursed by Medicaid—but only if states act to make use of it. In addition, local partnerships between health and education systems have been shown to improve care delivery, programmatic evaluations, resulting in better student health outcomes. Healthy Schools Campaign is a national leader in supporting states and school districts in leveraging both of these opportunities.

There are more than 50 million children attending elementary and secondary schools across the United States. Using schools as a resource to provide them with access to healthcare has the potential to help those kids become healthy and productive adults.

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What We’re Doing

Supporting Schools + States and Fostering Collaboration

Healthy Schools Campaign works closely with state policymakers, education officials and educators to help expand health services in school settings.

Expanding Medicaid Capacity

Healthy Schools Campaign provides critical support to states as they work to understand the federal Medicaid policy change; amend their state policies and programs; and evaluate the impact. HSC has created targeted policy recommendations and guides to support everyone working to expand access to school health services, including state and local education agency staff, state Medicaid agencies, school health providers, public health professionals, and advocates.

HSC works to:

  • Help policymakers understand how existing laws in their state might limit Medicaid reimbursement for school health, develop strategies to expand school-based Medicaid programs, and implement trainings to leverage the new funding
  • Manage the Healthy Students, Promising Futures Learning Collaborative, which brings together state teams across the country committed to increasing access to Medicaid services in schools
  • Manage the Medicaid Expansion for School Health to provide free training, technical assistance and peer learning opportunities to support Illinois school districts in expanding Medicaid billing for school health services
  • Advise state departments of public health and state education agencies on how to assess the leading health issues impacting students in the state to ensure the health services needed to address those issues are Medicaid reimbursable
  • Recommend ways that federal agencies can offer support, technical assistance and replicable models to states and school districts in expanding Medicaid programs
  • Direct stakeholders how to identify the key health and education decision-makers and build support at the state and local levels

Fostering Cross-sector Partnerships

Healthy Schools Campaign works closely with education, healthcare and public health partners to build and sustain collaborative cross-sector endeavors aimed at improving student health.

HSC does this by:

  • Advising local and regional medical providers on how to partner with schools to create coordinated approaches to improving student health
  • Fostering cooperation between state health departments and state educational agencies to develop better school-based health strategies and data sharing
  • Leveraging partnerships in efforts to persuade state officials to open additional funding streams for school health
  • Convening the Chicago School Health Access Collaborative in partnership with the Public Health Institute of Metropolitan Chicago to bring together health providers and payers, Chicago public schools officials, and advocacy organizations to help coordinate care, alleviate barriers to cooperation, facilitate data sharing, and share best practices

What You Can Do

Your voice matters in urging national, state and school leaders to prioritize the link between learning and health and increase access to school health services. We invite you to learn more and lend your voice to the dialogue about school health services:

Donate

As a nonprofit organization, we rely on support from people like you so we can continue to make schools healthier places where all children can learn and thrive. Your gift—large or small—will make a meaningful difference.

School Health Services Resources

Expanding school-based health services can improve both health and education outcomes. The following policy briefs explain how to increase access to these services using available federal funds.

Visit the main Resource Center for additional materials for states, school districts and health professionals.

Providing Health Services During School Closures

This Healthy Schools Campaign publication offers recommendations for how federal and state agencies can disaster-proof school health services before the next public health crisis or natural disaster.

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Schools Are Key to Improving Children’s Health: How Illinois Can Leverage Medicaid Funds to Expand School Health Services

This brief addresses the steps Illinois must take to amend its state Medicaid plan and increase access to school health services. It includes school provider staffing and student health metrics and lessons learned from other states.

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A Guide to Expanding Medicaid-Funded School Health Services

This guide is designed to support everyone working to expand access to school health services that are paid through Medicaid, including state and local education agency staff, state Medicaid agencies, school health providers, public health professionals and advocates. All of these stakeholders share a common goal: improve student health and educational outcomes.

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Care During Crisis: How Telehealth Policies Can Expand Health Services for Students and Families During COVID-19

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CDC’s Healthy Schools Website

A resource for data, multimedia, tools, training and resources from the CDC.

Visit this site

Connecting Health and Learning through ESSA: Opportunities for School Nurses

This webinar highlights the opportunities ESSA provides school nurses as they collaborate with school staff, students, families and community partners to take action to reduce …

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Education Data for Health Systems: Challenges and Opportunities

This brief highlights existing efforts to integrate education data, such as chronic absenteeism, into health and public health accountability systems, describes common barriers and best practices, and suggests key opportunities for further exploration to advance this work.

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Supporting Health and Wellness in ESSA Implementation: State Policy Opportunity

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) transfers significant authority from the federal government to the state level, creating opportunities to support school health and wellness through state policy. This document outlines key opportunities for incorporating health and wellness into ESSA state plans and is intended to support state-level educators in making the most of the opportunities presented by ESSA.

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Note - updated to the HSC Newsletter list 1.3.2017 per the updated newsletter configuration