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School-Based Health Centers: A Lesson in Innovation

High school classes for teen moms, early childhood education for their little ones, and health care for both. It’s all available at the Florence Crittenton High School in west Denver.

An on-campus school-based health center (SBHC) opened at Florence Crittenton two years ago, meaning the young mothers can get regular appointments for themselves and their children. Last year, the Alethia E. Morgan, M.D. Health Center helped every child stay up to date on immunizations while decreasing school absences among the moms.

The SBHC at Florence Crittenton is one of 58 centers across Colorado today, a number that has increased 53 percent from the 38 SBHCs in the 2006-07 school year. The number of patients served has also been on the rise, reaching 35,286 in the 2014-15 school year. Both SBHC metrics are at an all-time high.

February, coming to a close today, has seen a month-long effort by the School-Based Health Alliance, a national SBHC advocacy organization, to bring attention to the work of the nation’s 2,300 SBHCs spread across 49 states and the District of Columbia.

The Colorado Association for School-Based Health Care (CASBHC) is Colorado’s equivalent.

The Colorado legislature has contributed funding to the state’s SBHCs with $5 million annually from the state’s general fund, money that has gone toward establishing new sites and expanding existing sites. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) administers the money.

SBHC funding for the next fiscal year is now being debated at the Capitol. The Joint Budget Committee has delayed a decision while waiting for more information from the state.

Most Colorado SBHCs have diverse revenue sources, typically three to five, beyond the state funding. There is also local government funding and patient revenue.

The Colorado Health Institute, with help from CASBHC, has been surveying SBHCs since the 2006-07 school year. The tenth survey was administered last fall and the new findings will be available this spring. Watch for our update!