School-Based Health Centers (SBHCs)

School-based health centers (SBHCs) in Oregon deliver quality, affordable, cost-effective health care to young people and function like a doctor's office located on school grounds. They offer a range of medical and health services, enjoy broad community support, and help keep kids healthier, in school, and ready to learn. SBHCs have proven to be a strategic investment that benefit schools, families, communities, and serve thousands of Oregon youth every year.

Defining Characteristics of SBHCs

  • Provide quality, comprehensive health care services that help students succeed in school and in life.
  • Located in or near a school facility and open during school hours.
  • Organized through school, community, and health provider relationships.
  • Staffed by qualified health care professionals such as family nurse practitioners.
  • Focused on prevention, early identification, and treatment of medical and behavioral concerns that can interfere with a student's learning.
  • Support academic success at virtually no cost to the school or district.

SBHC Services

​SBHCs are staffed like a local pediatric or family practice clinic with administrative staff and clinical providers (nurse practitioner, physician assistant, or physician), and at some sites, qualified mental health professionals.

Decisions about which services to offer at an SBHC are made locally and must be in compliance with state with state certification standards. Each SBHC operates with a medical sponsor such as a county health department, university medical center, private health clinic, or a federally qualified health centers (FQHC).

Key services include:
  • Quality primary health care, including routine physical exams, diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic illness, treatment of minor injuries, and vision and dental screenings.
  • Prevention messages and health education such as obesity counseling and tobacco prevention.
  • Mental health services or referrals, including grief therapy, help with peer pressure, bullying and suicide prevention.
  • Access to care for all students within their district, with some offering expanded after-school hours.
  • Engaging students, parents/guardians, families, and community members in advisory councils that provide support for the center and opportunities for community service.

Access to Care

SBHCs allow young people to access health care services during the day while at school and help reduce barriers to access such as cost, transportation, inconvenience, and confidentiality concerns. Last year, 90 percent of youth seeking services at an SBHC were able to get an appointment immediately for the care they needed, and 75 percent were unlikely to have received care that day without an SBHC.

Today, many young people in Oregon still lack adequate access to the health care they need due to a lack of health insurance, an insurance policy with limited coverage, a lack of understanding about how to access care, poor access to transportation (especially in rural areas), and a lack of medical providers providing care under the Oregon Health Plan. School-based health centers address each of these barriers by providing all school-aged youth with the care they need, whether they have private insurance, public assistance, or no insurance. 

Prevention

School-based health centers offer young people the opportunity to learn about health risks and disease prevention, as well as develop lasting relationships with medical professionals who can monitor treatment and support healthy lifestyles. In the 2012-2013 SBHC youth survey, 77 percent reported discussing at least one preventive health topic during their health center visit. The top five preventive health topics covered during SBHC visits were:

Healthy body weight
Healthy eating
Exercise
Reproductive health
Feelings

SBHC staff routinely counsel students individually, in groups, and through school-wide education initiatives. By focusing on prevention and early intervention, SBHCs reduce expenditures throughout the state's health care systems, reduce inappropriate emergency room use, and support academic success by keeping kids healthy and in school.

School Success

In 2013, 74 percent of students estimated that they would miss one class or more in order to visit and off-site clinic. Studies have shown that school-based health centers decrease absences, tardiness, and school discipline or behavior problems. When students receive care at school for their health care needs, daily attendance increases which provides the school with maximum revenue. Adolescents are also 10-21 times more likely to access mental health services at SBHCs versus a community clinic or HMO, and in-school mental health services have been shown to decrease discipline referrals by as much as 65 percent.

Funding

Funding formulas vary by site but include state dollars sent to each county with an SBHC. Local dollars often come through school districts, county health departments, hospitals, community providers, local businesses and individuals, grants and other fundraising.
 

More Information

2015 SBHC Status Report from the Oregon Health Authority
Oregon SBHC Standards for Certification
Read the 2014 OSBHA Fact Sheet
List of Oregon SBHCs 
SBHC History in Oregon: Honoring a Legacy and Advancing a Future