Youth Leaders Spearhead Advocacy Efforts for SBHCs

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Salem, Oregon
2015 SBHC Awareness Day, scheduled for February 26 at the Oregon State Capitol, is an annual effort by the Oregon School-Based Health Alliance (OSBHA) to highlight the impact of school-based health services on student health and academic achievement. The event provides an opportunity for young people to visit the capitol, meet their legislators, and link their personal stories to the importance of school-based health centers (SBHCs) in communities around the state.

Led by OSBHA’s Statewide Youth Advisory Council (SYAC) members, the event provides an opportunity for youth to connect with each other and engage in the legislative process. This year’s Awareness Day in Salem will focus on providing opportunities for young people to speak with their legislators and share stories about their positive experiences with SBHCs.

The event will also support OSBHA’s legislative initiatives:
  • HB2626 seeks funding and incentives for capital construction of SBHCs.
  • SB336 seeks funding for expansion and for parity in the SBHC funding formula.
SBHCs are uniquely effective because they operate at the intersection of youth-focused preventive care, primary care, public health, and education.

National research demonstrates the impact of SBHCs on academic achievement:
  • Students in states with school-based health centers that serve as Medicaid providers have greater academic achievement than states without them
  • High school SBHC users in one study had a 50 percent decrease in absenteeism and 25 percent decrease in tardiness two months after receiving school-based mental health and counseling
  • A different study found that SBHC users for mental health purposes increased their Grade Point Averages over time compared to nonusers
  • African-American male SBHC users were three times more likely to stay in school than their peers who did not use the SBHC
  • SBHCs in The Bronx, NY reduced hospitalization and increased school attendance among school children with asthma.
OSBHA seeks to sustain the momentum for supporting and expanding the reach of school-based health services and centers as an effective approach for supporting health care transformation in Oregon. Today, 68 centers are in operation in 20 Oregon counties with seven sites scheduled to open in 2015. These SBHCs serve approximately 24,000 students each year in more than 70,000 visits.

The effectiveness of SBHC services is clear: students perform better when they show up for class healthy and ready to learn. OSBHA recognizes that students understand the SBHC model and can deliver powerful stories to help strengthen the state’s health and education systems.

“Young people are an essential part of our messaging about the effectiveness of SBHCs,” says Maureen Hinman, OSBHA policy director. “They understand how and why the services work and are effective advocates for expanding the SBHC model of care.”

Tobias Rubel, SYAC financial director, says that engagement in the civic process is a powerful activity that can have a long-term effect on health. “When young people are involved in advocating for their health care, they become empowered to take control of their health, and that can have long-term repercussions on future access to care and health.”

Tammy Alexander, OSBHA interim executive director adds, Our health and education systems have the opportunity to work together to improve student and community outcomes, and SBHCs are an excellent model for driving this collaboration. Oregon is increasingly recognized as a leader in this field, and we want the state to continue this forward momentum.”

2015 Awareness Day, organized by the Oregon School-Based Health Alliance, takes place on Wednesday, February 26 from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm at the Oregon State Capitol.

School-Based Health Center Facts
  • Oregon has 68 certified School-Based Health Centers (SBHCs)
  • SBHCs operate in 20 Oregon counties
  • 7 new SBHCs are scheduled to open in 2015
  • SBHCs served 23,797 students in 70,666 visits (2013-2014 Service Year)
  • 77 percent of students estimated they would miss one class or more in order visit an off-site clinic (2013-2014 Service Year)
  • At least $2 to $3 additional dollars are leveraged from grants, billing, donations and other sources for every state dollar invested

The Oregon School-Based Health Alliance is a statewide nonprofit organization based in Portland that supports existing SBHCs and works to strengthen, sustain, and expand school-based health centers to support the health and academic success of children and youth.

Contact: Rafael OttoCommunity Affairs Director,