School-Based Health Centers

School-based health centers are exactly what the name implies: the center of health in the schools where they are based.

Students and their families rely on school-based health centers to meet their needs for a full range of age-appropriate health care services, typically including:

  • primary medical care
  • mental/behavioral health care
  • dental/oral health care
  • health education and promotion
  • substance abuse counseling
  • case management
  • nutrition education

Students can be treated for acute illnesses, such as flu, and chronic conditions, including asthma and diabetes. They can also be screened for dental, vision and hearing problems. With an emphasis on prevention, early intervention and risk reduction, school-based health centers counsel students on healthy habits and how to prevent injury, violence and other threats.

School-based health centers often are operated as a partnership between the school and a community health organization, such as a community health center, hospital, or local health department. The specific services provided by school-based health centers vary based on community needs and resources as determined through collaborations between the community, the school district and the health care providers. 

Nearly 2,000 school-based health centers operate nationwide, according to the most recent National Assembly on School-Based Health Care census. Most are open every day school is in session.

About 20 percent receive funding through the HRSA Health Center Program.

Did You Know?

The Affordable Care Act appropriated a total of $200 million for 2010 through 2013 to support capital grants to improve and expand services at school-based health centers.

$95 million was awarded to 278 school based health centers in July 2011, enabling them to serve an additional 440,000 patients. They currently serve approximately 790,000.

With these funds, the school-based health centers will modernize or build new facilities, purchase much-needed equipment and increase access to health services for children.

School-based Health Centers Google Map

Date Last Reviewed:  May 2017