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National School-Based Health Care Convention Makes Strides in Redefining Health for Kids and Teens

Catherine is a senior communications professional helping social change organizations tell their story in powerful ways. She has expertise in public health, environmental stewardship, philanthropy and education. Follow her on Twitter @CatBrozena

2013 convention looks at where school-based health care has evolved from, what the future holds

As the new era of health care reform continues to shape our nation’s policies and practices, changing the landscape of how many Americans receive care, the face of school-based health care is changing as well. This year’s school-based health convention, held in Washington, DC, highlighted the extent to which school-based health care is itself transforming alongside an evolving health care system.

School-Based Health Alliance logoThe convention, held annually for the past 18 years, brings together hundreds of child and adolescent health providers and advocates from across the country to network and share the latest best practices and resources for building a strong school-based health care infrastructure in their schools and communities.

The National Assembly on School-Based Health Care, the organization which puts on the convention each year, announced its new name and brand identity — School-Based Health Alliance: Redefining Health for Kids and Teens.  The new brand reflects an evolution as an organization and the vibrant and renewed energy that is underscoring the growing school-based health care movement. Many of the speakers at the convention reflected on the hard-fought milestones and successes achieved over the past two decades, noting that, as the nation’s health care model moves from sick care to prevention and population health, school-based health centers are well positioned to address these changes.

Back in 1987 when the School-Based Health Alliance completed their first census report of the country’s SBHCs, there were just 120 centers in existence. Today there is estimated to be more than 2,000 school-based health centers or programs in operation nationwide. These centers and programs play a vital role in linking some of the most hard-to-reach populations with access to primary and mental health care services, with a growing number offering additional health services such as oral health, nutrition counseling and obesity prevention.

The organization’s latest census report, released on the final day of the convention, collected data from 1,485 respondents during the 2010-2011 school year. The census highlighted how SBHCs are becoming a larger part of the health care setting, playing a more recognizable role in providing comprehensive care solutions for their populations.

Many SBHCs are collecting core quality assurance measures such as chart audits, patient satisfaction measures and staff credential/training requirements. Many are adopting health information technology as part of their infrastructure and are keeping their doors open after hours to accommodate patients.

California SBHADuring this year’s convention, the School-Based Health Alliance hosted a record-breaking national Advocacy Day event where attendees met with more than 140 members of Congress to discuss the role that SBHCs play in connecting underserved children and youth with the health resources they need to achieve their full potential. Many attendees met with their federal representatives to advocate for additional funding of school-based health care program administration and operations through funds authorized by the Affordable Care Act that could support staffing of doctors, nurse practitioners, mental health professionals, and other providers.

Under the Thriving Schools effort, Kaiser Permanente and the School-Based Health Alliance are working together to expand the role that school-based health centers play in advancing obesity prevention, social and emotional health, and school employee wellness.

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To learn more about School-Based Health Alliance and the 2013 convention, visit

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