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School Based Health Centers: receives special recognition for all they provide
(article from Fall 2015 Newsletter)
Child and Family Receives Good Neighbor Award while Celebrating 25 years of School Based Health Centers
Child and Family Agency’s School Based Health Centers were the recipient of the 2015 Good Neighbor Award awarded by The Groton Adolescent Substance Abuse Prevention (GASP) Coalition. The School Based Health Centers were chosen because of their commitment to identifying risk factors for adolescent substance abuse, screening for substance abuse and providing early intervention. The Good Neighbor Award was created in 2013 to recognize a leader in the Groton community whose actions promote improved health and prevention of adolescent substance abuse.
GASP Coalition Coordinator Carolyn Wilson explains, “GASP has selected Child and Family Agency School Based Health Centers to receive the Good Neighbor Award because we recognize that in-school services can play an important part in preventing substance abuse. Prevention needs to be a multi-faceted team approach and we can’t just rely on one player, such as a parent or guardian. Our fabulous in-school healthcare providers and clinicians at the ground level can help students before they develop a problem. Furthermore, if a student needs additional substance abuse counseling services, a referral is made by the School Based Health Center to their parent agency, for comprehensive family-focused services”.
Child and Family Agency has 18 School Based Health Centers (SBHCs) that are located within schools in New London, Groton, Norwich, Waterford and Stonington. The first SBHC opened in 1990 at Bennie Dover Middle School in New London. SBHCs are licensed by the Department of Public Health and are staffed by Licensed Certified Nurse Practitioners and Masters-prepared Mental Health Clinicians and operate under the guidance of a medical director. Students enrolled in Child and Family Agency’s SBHCs can obtain comprehensive physical and mental health services such as physicals, minor acute illness care, health promotion and disease prevention education, as well as group, individual and/or family therapy. Our staff provides confidential physical and behavioral health services to students on site. All children enrolled at the school may use the SBHC, regardless of income or health care coverage. SBHCs provide convenient services to supplement care they get from their regular provider. Parents must sign a permission form for students to use the center. A SBHC is not the same as the school nurse’s office: however, the school nurse, the school teachers and staff and the SBHC staff work together to provide coordinated, comprehensive health services to the students.
“One of the several benefits of SBHCs is that the kids get care they need in a confidential, comfortable environment that they are already used to,” said JoAnn Eaccarino, Associate Director of School Based Health Services. “Having the care based in the school allows the teachers to communicate more with the Nurse Practitioners and mental health clinicians to flag struggling children, ensure more seamless care and offers more opportunity for follow up to make sure these kids are making progress.”
SBHCs have proven to be optimal settings to foster learning readiness and academic achievement while giving children the resources they need to improve their physical and mental health. Our staff also provides evidence based mental health therapy and crisis intervention; they are the trusted ear to hear the explanation of bruises, unexpected pregnancy or a family suddenly faced with loss.
SBHCs are committed to treating each child in a thorough, confidential manner, offering services in the best interest of the individual. They share a developmental approach to pediatric and adolescent health, respecting the age, cultural values and family situation of every student.
It is the mission of SBHCs to help students learn about health practices that promote their health and well-being. Each center emphasizes early identification of physical and mental health concerns and the prevention of more serious problems by early intervention. The mental health clinicians work with students and families whose needs are beyond that which school support services provide.
Each SBHC is a free-standing health facility, operating in a manner appropriate to the school and community where it is located. SBHCs are guided by local advisory boards composed of local medical and mental health professionals, school officials, community leaders, and parents.
The SBHCs administered by Child & Family Agency are supported by the Connecticut Department of Public Health, the United Way, community grants, and third-party reimbursement.
Each SBHC is dedicated to working with its school and community. Staff in the centers are educational and community resources, able to provide programs on wellness, disease prevention, health promotion and general health management.