Alliance Hosts Congressional Briefings During Awareness Month

On Wednesday, February 28, the School-Based Health Alliance held two congressional briefings in honor of National School-Based Health Care Awareness Month. Child health experts from around the country shared how school-based health centers (SBHCs) are meeting the increased mental health needs of the lesser known victims of this epidemic – children who are affected by their parents’ or families’ struggles with addiction. There aren’t enough mental health providers available for these young people and their need is growing. We know that SBHCs are part of a comprehensive community response and provide the mental health care that children deserve.

Our speakers explored the ways in which SBHCs are using technology, such as telehealth, to expand services to those who would otherwise go without and to add critical capacity to more isolated and rural communities. Not only were the panelists highly knowledgeable, but audience attendance and engagement were tremendous as well.

We’d like to give a big thank you to each of our panelists, Kenneth Coleman, PhD, LPC, NCC, Chris Kjolhede, MD, MPH, FAAP, and Winston Wong, MD, MS. We’d be remiss without also thanking the dedicated advocates in the school-based health care field. We thank them for taking the time to reach out to their Members of Congress to urge them to attend our briefing(s) and learn more about school-based health centers and the critical work that their staff do by providing access to behavioral/mental health services for children and youth impacted by the opioid epidemic.

As proof of just how successful and important congressional briefings can be, we were honored to have Congressman Faso (R-NY) not only make opening remarks during our House briefing, but stay for a better part of the event as well as sign onto our appropriations letter and Hallways to Health Act! Please see his press release for more information.

And, since the briefings, we’ve had several other congressional offices reach out to the Alliance to learn more about the SBHC model and the Hallways to Health Act (S. 356/H.R. 1027), as well as our other legislative priorities. Members of Congress are now championing one of our biggest legislative priorities: the SBHC Authorization. For a quick history, the SBHC Authorization was passed in the Affordable Care Act but went unfunded. The Authorization is one of the provisions in the Hallways to Health bill, and as now, we have Congressman Gomez (D-CA), Congressman Sarbanes (D-MD), and Congressman Faso (R-NY) circulating a letter to fund the SBHC Authorization at $10 million. We’re asking all school-based health care advocates to please send this letter to their House Members and request that they sign on. Deadline for signatures is close of business on Wednesday, March 14.

Given the briefing’s focus on the impact of the opioid epidemic and young people’s subsequent needs for mental health services, we foresee several legislative opportunities in this space as several bills are currently in development—both with regard to opioids as well as mental health. Thanks again to all of you who helped make our briefings such a success!

Letter: Support School-Based Health Centers Funding in FY19

Hallways to Health Act Section-by-Section Analysis

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