Expanding services at school-based health centers to meet student needs

In our growing region, our school-based health system faces new needs for services to help students thrive. Every year, school-based health centers in King County provide over 40,000 health care visits to students. Schools provide a convenient, safe location for students to access critical health services like annual check-ups or vaccinations, and also provide young people with easy access counseling and other important mental health services.

That’s why Best Starts for Kids is partnering to expand services at 15 existing school-based health centers to meet emerging needs for mental health care, substance use prevention, and health care services. We’re thrilled to announce new awards to 7 community-based service providers to make medical staff more available to students, coordinate care with school staff and parents, and add needed services like substance use screening and treatment.

ICHS Seattle World School staff 3

School-based health centers provide comprehensive health services at no cost to students or their families. Above, staff from International Community Health Services at their clinic at Seattle World School. ICHS will partner with Best Starts to expand culturally reflective mental health care.

For example, Swedish Medical Center will add a Substance Use Prevention and Intervention Specialist to their care team at Ballard High School to address higher-than-average alcohol and marijuana use among students. The specialist will help student groups and parents better understand the risks of using marijuana and alcohol in adolescence, as well as provide individual counseling to students struggling with their use.

“This funding will help us prevent substance use with our students, and intervene early when they need more support,” said Karen Boudour, a Nurse Practitioner at the Swedish Health Center at Ballard High School. “We’ll be able to support students struggling with substance use here at school, and better connect them to the resources they need. By adding this role to our staff, the Nurse Practitioner, mental health therapist, and Prevention Interventionist will be able to coordinate care. This will keep more students in school and on a path to success.”

Funded services vary to meet the specific needs of students at each school. Additional example programs include:

  • International Community Health Services will make culturally and linguistically reflective mental health care, substance use prevention and screening, and treatment services consistently available to students at the Seattle World School health center.
  • Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic will expand mental health provider availability at Beacon Hill and Madrona Elementary Schools, and increase staffing to coordinate care between students, parents, and teachers.

The awards will expand services at existing school-based health centers in Seattle and Highline School Districts. Funds range from $23,000 to $77,000 per year and will support services for up to three years. The new services complement Best Starts’ current investment to build 3 new school-based health centers in Renton, Bellevue, and Vashon Island. With the addition of these new health centers, King County is now home to a system of 31 comprehensive school-based health centers, with 6 additional clinics offering mental health services only.

See below for a full list of community-based providers receiving funds to expand, and the schools they will serve.

Community-Based Provider School-Based Health Center Funding
Kaiser Permanente of Washington Aki Kurose Middle School $23,000
Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic Beacon Hill Elementary

Madrona Elementary

$34,000
Neighborcare Health Roxhill Elementary

Dearborn Park Elementary

Bailey Gatzert Elementary

Highland Park Elementary

Van Asselt Elementary

West Seattle Elementary

$77,000
International Community Health Services Seattle World School $36,000
HealthPoint Community Health Centers Tyee High School

Evergreen High School

Renton High School

$70,000
Swedish Medical Center Ballard High School $70,000
Public Health—Seattle & King County School-Based Health Center Program Ingraham High School $65,000

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