Flint, MI, Looks to SBHCs as Part of Comprehensive Response to Water Crisis

city-street-house-brokenThe water crisis in Flint, Michigan, is a problem that won’t easily be solved. Lead exposure has long-term, serious consequences for individual’s health, particularly for children and adolescents. Beyond the immediate need for infrastructure repairs, the community in Flint will require wrap-around services to support the families and children who have already been exposed to unhealthy levels of lead. Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-D) introduced legislation on February 5 that will do just that, and the School-Based Health Alliance applauds him for including funding for school-based health centers (SBHCs) as part of a comprehensive solution.

Congressman Kildee’s bill, which is comparable to legislation introduced in the Senate by Michigan’s U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, will provide $5 million to establish SBHCs in every Flint school. These SBHCs will be ideally positioned to serve the generation of students who will go through the Flint school system with unique health needs. SBHCs unite the worlds of health and education, and we believe they will be valuable resources for teachers and administrators in Flint schools. They make accessing health care easy for students and parents by providing services on school campus. The majority are staffed by a primary care provider and a behavioral health provider. If Congressman Kildee’s bill passes, these SBHCs will serve Flint well for decades to come.

We’ve recently seen other communities—such as Sandy Hook, Connecticut, and Ferguson, Missouri—identify SBHCs as a solution in response to crises. While it’s encouraging to see the benefits of school-based health care recognized in high-profile situations, ideally SBHCs would already be in place. Senator Stabenow will soon introduce a comprehensive SBHC “vision bill” that will expand clinical operations and secure SBHCs’ status as safety net and essential community providers. Learn more about her bill, and how you can advocate for it, by watching our archived webinar.

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