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School Health Care Advocates Urge President Obama: Build On What’s Working

Resource type: News

Hartford Courant | [ View Original Source (opens in new window) ]

By Jesse White-Fres, Connecticut Association of School Based Health Centers Statewide

Top officials with the School-Based Health Alliance applaud President Obama for inspiring philanthropic and corporate communities to invest more deeply in the success of young minority men, and offer a model that could be key to achieving his goals. The My Brother’s Keeper program calls on community leaders to make sure every young man of color who is willing to work hard and lift himself up has an opportunity to get ahead and reach his full potential.

One important strategy already proven effective in addressing the academic support needs of young minority men—a population that historically is difficult to reach—is school-based health centers. Today, there are more than 2,000 nationwide providing medical and behavioral care services to children and adolescents without concern for their ability to pay and in a location that meets students where they are: at school. Nationwide, SBHCs have dedicated themselves to improving the health of minorities; 71.1 percent of those who use the SBHCs identify as nonwhite or mixed race.

A recent study published in The Journal of School Nursing, titled “Engaging African American and Latino Adolescent Males Through School-Based Health Centers,” sought to determine why young minority men are more likely to receive adolescent care in SBHCs than in other community-based settings. The authors found the burdens and hurdles of life were keeping young men from accessing mental health care and that they sought care in SBHCs because, according to the study’s authors, they found SBHCs to be inclusive and responsive to their health care needs. In a survey given to the young minority men, they said “the door is always open; they get to us, and help me to achieve my best potential.”

“Our study shows that SBHCs reach young minority men in a way that other service delivery models simply cannot,” said Jesse White-Frese, one of the study’s authors, who is the executive director of the Connecticut Association of School Based Health Centers and a member of the School-Based Health Alliance’s Board of Directors. “Initiatives to improve the lives of young men of color are more likely to be successful if they include school-based health care.”

SBHCs also address the sexual health needs of young minority men. The School-Based Health Alliance recently partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to deliver school-based HIV/AIDS prevention strategies targeted at highest risk for new infections — young African-American and Latino who have sex with men. SBHCs, school districts, and community-based organizations in New York City crossed traditional sector boundaries to create a system of care for young men of color at risk for contracting HIV/STDs. SBHC staff and school nurses adapted the school health programs to be more inclusive of—and inviting to—young men in need of health care services.

School-Based Health Alliance (formerly known as National Assembly on School-Based Health Care) is a grantee of Atlantic’s Children & Youth programme in the United States, which funds efforts to support and expand community schools.

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Elev8, My Brother's Keeper, SBHC