Featured photo: Representative Jack Bergman (MI-01)
School-based health centers (SBHCs) often provide medical services to low-income and economically disadvantaged students, allowing for health care equity among youth and adolescents who may face disparities due to race, ethnicity, or family income.
On May 5, Representative Jack Bergman (MI-01) and Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05), Chief Deputy Whip of the House Democratic Caucus, sent a letter supporting the dedication of funding for SBHCs in any upcoming coronavirus pandemic emergency relief bills.
“We are truly grateful for the consideration of additional funding to expand our network of school-based health centers throughout Michigan,” said Debra Brinson, Executive Director of the School-Community Health Alliance of Michigan.
“We see this funding really helping our centers in a number of ways,” Brinson added. “First, to help support our centers, who are losing revenue during the pandemic. Second, we see this funding to help expand the much-needed continued and expansive use of telephonic and telehealth services and finally, this funding will help to fully support Michigan’s students when they return to school. We know they are facing daily traumas throughout this crisis, and this funding will allow our centers to stand ready to help children once schools are able to reopen their doors.”
In addition to Kildee and Bergman, the bipartisan letter was signed Representatives Brenda Lawrence (MI-14), Fred Upton (MI-6), Debbie Dingell (MI-12), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Elissa Slotkin (MI-08), Andy Levin (MI-09) and Haley Stevens (MI-11).
“Currently, SBHCs across the nation provide invaluable comprehensive health care services to over two million young people. These centers will become an even more vital resource for mental health services as a result of this pandemic, when many students and families might struggle with trauma and anxiety about returning to school, coupled with rising unemployment rates and economic instability,” part of the letter reads.
Additional federal funding for SBHCs will ensure that centers can continue to provide invaluable care for families and students, even while schools remain closed for the foreseeable future. With additional funding, these centers can provide expanded mental health services via telemedicine, deploy more staff to diagnose and treat those with COVID-19 and establish new centers in communities that are hardest hit by the virus. Funding would also support preparations for any potential second peak of COVID-19 infections.
There are over 2,000 school based health centers across the nation, including 221 in Michigan.