By Hayley Love John Schlitt Nirmita Panchal Jené Grandmont: For More Info, Go Here…
Given the inextricable relationship between health and education outcomes, schools and local health care systems are exploring strategic intersections that can support children’s physical, emotional, cognitive, and social development. The nation’s 2,500-plus school-based health centers (SBHCs) are one such collaborative strategy. SBHCs are a shared commitment between a community’s schools and health care organizations that improve child and adolescent health care access and use, health and well-being, and academic success. Schools provide a space for SBHCs to operate, and local health care organizations bring an array of services delivered by a multidisciplinary team capable of addressing the complex and interacting factors that influence health and education among underserved youth. Primary health care is the foundation of services in SBHCs. Mental health care, social services, oral health care, reproductive health, nutrition education, vision services, and health promotion services are often provided as well. When young people are afforded convenient access to multidisciplinary practitioners, the barriers to receiving needed health care—transportation, time, costs, care fragmentation, and provider shortages—are reduced. Yet, too many youth do not have access to SBHCs. As we described in an article published in May in Health Affairs, a small minority of US public schools either have an on-site SBHC (2 percent) or access to one (10 percent).
Because one of the chief goals of the School-Based Health Alliance (the Alliance) is to encourage the growth and replication of SBHCs to a greater number of schools and students who need them, we sought to create a mapping tool that could help us predict geographic areas of need across a variety of social, economic, health, and education indicators. While data are abundant, they are typically reported in silos, and it is difficult to examine geographic areas where multiple indicators of need co-exist. The Children’s Health and Education Mapping Toolwas designed by the Alliance, in partnership with HealthLandscape, as a response and an effort to reduce these silos because many children are likely to simultaneously experience multiple dimensions of need. We looked to publicly available national data sets (Note 1) to overlay geographic information about children’s enrollment in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, teen birth rates, chlamydia rates, food insecurity, obesity prevalence, high school completion, poverty, free lunch eligibility, housing availability, and violent crimes. The mapping tool is designed to support diverse users to identify high-need areas, the locations of SBHCs, schools, and community partners, and strategically plan for future expansion of SBHCs. It also includes the latest data about SBHC locations, staffing and delivery models, services provided, populations served, and funding sources from the Alliance’s National School-Based Health Care Census.
There are many ways the tool can be used as part of a strategy to address health and education disparities. Here, we present three hypothetical uses for the tool.