School-based health centers

March 29, 2011
Kaiser Permanente employees raise $600,000 for National Assembly on School-Based Health Care.

WASHINGTON D.C.--The National Assembly on School-Based Health Care, a nonprofit organization that aims to advance and advocate for school-based health centers, has announced receipt of a $600,000 grant from Kaiser Permanente.

To read more about Kaiser Permanente, go to Kaiser Permanente.

Funding from the Oakland-based nonprofit health organization will be used to increase access to oral health care for approximately 3,000 children and adolescents with demonstrated need. NASBHC will use a competitive grant process to distribute a majority of the funding directly to the SBHC field to expand the scope of practice of existing staff.

The geographic reach of the project will be national with a focus on Colorado, California, Oregon, Washington, Georgia, Ohio, Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.

“One of the most pressing, unmet health needs of children and adolescents that SBHCs seek to address is oral health,” said Linda Juszczak, executive director of NASBHC.

“Poor oral health has been shown to impact students’ academic performance, often contributing to poor attendance, concentration problems, and low self image. With specialized training and support, our nation’s SBHCs are well-positioned to provide their young patients with access to the oral health care they need to stay healthy and in school, and NASBHC’s partnership with Kaiser Permanente will help make this happen.”

Funding for the $600,000 grant is a result of Kaiser Permanente’s employee wellness program, Healthy Workforce, through which the organization contributed $50 for each employee who took an online health risk assessment. Almost 23,000 Kaiser Permanente employees voluntarily participated in the program in its first year, which raised $1.2 million overall. The funding will be divided between NASBHC and Bridgeport, Conn.-based Wholesome Wave.

"Kaiser Permanente shares common values with the National Assembly on School-Based Health Care, including a commitment to assure access to high-quality health care, unencumbered by income, language, culture or socioeconomic background,” said Winston Wong, M.D., medical director, Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit. "We are delighted to partner with NASBHC to address the epidemic of dental disease that disproportionately affects children who are poor and of a minority."

More than 1,900 SBHCs across the country provide access to almost two million students for a range of primary, mental, and oral health-care services. These services are provided regardless of students’ ability to pay, and are held in a location that meets children and adolescents where they are: at school. Students in schools with SBHCs are predominantly members of minority and ethnic populations who have historically experienced under-insurance, lack of insurance, or other health care access disparities.

SBHC staff is trained to provide primary care and often mental health, but their greatest need is for increased capacity to provide oral health care. A little more than half (57%) of SBHCs conduct oral health screenings on site or by referral and less than a quarter (20%) provide fluoride varnish on site or by referral.

Even fewer (10%) provide general dental care. NASBHC and Kaiser Permanente believe that training and support of existing SBHC staff will help increase the number of patients who receive critical access to oral health care.

During the project, NASBHC and its partners will train existing SBHC staff--primary care providers and medical support staff--to expand their scope of practice to include oral health risk assessment. The training that SBHCs receive will include assessment and intervention of dietary habits.

The project will assist SBHC staff in building a referral network so that their patients, who are often uninsured or lack access to quality dental care, will receive the treatment they need to have healthy mouths, healthy teeth, improved nutrition, and healthy lives.

In addition, the project will facilitate relationship building between SBHC state associations and child oral health policy advocates in their states, leading to increased knowledge, collaboration, and partnerships around service delivery and policy change.

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