Family Health Care has been awarded grant funding from the state of Michigan to add school-based health centers in the Evart and Reed City school districts.
The Child and Adolescent Health Center Program Planning Grants through the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) will provide $100,000 in funding for each school district to work with Family Health Care to create a school-based health clinic that would deliver mental and primary health care services to children and adolescents ages 5 to 21.
“Providing a safe and caring place for children and adolescents to learn positive health behaviors, address mental health needs and ensure a continuity of care results in healthy youth who are ready and able to learn and become educated, productive adults,” said Taggert Doll, Unit Manager at MDHHS.
The establishment of a school-based health center is a partnership between a school and a sponsoring medical agency, such as Family Health Care, which is a federally qualified health center with locations in Lake, Mecosta, Newaygo, Wexford and Missaukee counties.
“We are excited to increase access to care in Osceola County,” said Julie Tatko, CEO of Family Health Care. “School-based health clinics are conveniently located inside the schools where we provide access to essential care and services. These clinics eliminate barriers that often keep children and adolescents from seeing a health care provider.”
Within a school-based health center, medical services are provided by a nurse practitioner or physician assistant. Mental health services are provided by a licensed master’s level mental health provider such as a social worker.
“School-based health centers make it convenient for students to leave class and walk down the hall for a medical visit or counseling,” said Mike Sweet, superintendent of the Reed City Area Public Schools. “Too often, school personnel have to stand-in as medical providers or behavioral health therapists. This will allow educators to focus on teaching children and leave the complex medical and mental health issues up to professionals who are specially trained to address these needs and concerns.”
Research has shown that school-based health centers provide benefits to both health and academics.
“Schools that have health centers onsite often have better student performance and higher graduation rates,” said Jason O’Dell, principal at Evart Middle School. “Healthy kids miss less instructional time. Having a health center within our school provides parents and guardians with the convenience of not having to take their child out of school to go to a doctor’s appointment or a therapy session. That also prevents parents and guardians from having to miss work or other obligations to take their child to an appointment.”
The grant also requires establishment of a Community Advisory Committee, made up of school staff, local parents of school-aged children or adolescents, school health representatives and clinicians from the sponsoring provider.
School-based health clinics offer services year-round to patients, not just during the school year.
School-based health centers have been provided in Michigan through the MDHHS Child and Adolescent Health Center program since the 1980’s. Family Health Care operates school-based clinics in Baldwin, White Cloud and Grant.
The new school-based clinics in Reed City and Evart are targeted to open during the 2023-2024 school year.
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