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Task Force Recommends School-Based Health Centers to Promote Health Equity

A group of high school students studying in a classroom.The Community Preventive Services Task Force recommends the implementation and maintenance of school-based health centers (SBHCs) in low-income communities, based on sufficient evidence of effectiveness in improving educational and health outcomes. This recommendation is based on a systematic review of all available studies that was conducted—with oversight from the Task Force—by scientists and subject matter experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in collaboration with a wide range of government, academic, policy, and practice-based partners.

 

The following articles about School-Based Health Centers appear in the July 2016 issue of American Journal of Preventive Medicine:

What are School-Based Health Centers?

School-based health centers (SBHCs) provide health services to students preK-12 and may be offered on-site (i.e., school-based centers) or off-site (i.e., school-linked centers). SBHCs are often established in schools that serve predominantly low-income communities and have the following characteristics:

  • SBHCs must provide primary health care and may also include mental health care, social services, dentistry, and health education.
  • Primary care services may be provided by a single clinician, or comprehensive services may be provided by multi-disciplinary teams.
  • Services may be available only during some school days or hours, and may also be available in non-school hours.
  • Student participation requires parental consent, and services provided for individual students may be limited for specific types of care, such as reproductive or mental health.
  • Services may be provided to school staff, student family members, and others within the surrounding community.
  • Services are often provided by a medical center or provider independent of the school system.

Why is This Recommendation Important?

Children from low-income and racial and ethnic minority populations in the United States commonly experience worse health, are less likely to have a usual place of health care, and miss more days of school because of illness than do children from the less economically and socially disadvantaged populations. They also are more likely to be hungry and have problems with vision, oral health, or hearing. Addressing these obstacles can be critical to their education and long-term health.

What are the Task Force and Community Guide?

  • The Community Preventive Services Task Force (Task Force) is an independent, nonfederal, uncompensated panel of public health and prevention experts. The Task Force works to improve the health of all Americans by providing evidence-based recommendations about community preventive programs, services, and policies to improve health. Its members represent a broad range of research, practice, and policy expertise in community prevention services, public health, health promotion, and disease prevention.
  • The Guide to Community Preventive Services (The Community Guide) is a website that is a collection of all the evidence-based findings and recommendations of the Community Preventive Services Task Force.

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