ABSTRACT. School-based health centers (SBHCs) represent effective school-community partnerships that increase access to health care for vulnerable youth and help address the complex health needs of students with limited community resources, allowing them to participate more fully in their education. A review of the existing literature on developing and maintaining SBHCs identified numerous challenges preventing an increase in this innovative school-based health care approach. The challenges include misaligned missions of health and educational organizations, incompatible financing systems and organizational cultures, as well as privacy and technical challenges associated with sharing student information. Discussion of ways to bring sectors together to improve health and economic mobility in communities held among policy experts and practitioners with backgrounds in education, housing/urban development and health convened by the Brookings Institute illuminated challenges and highlighted potential solutions. Stakeholders argued that to realize the full potential of SBHCs, steps were needed to address existing systemic barriers. Among the recommendations are policy solutions, such as refining Medicaid reimbursement rules or clarifying IRS requirements affecting these partnerships, and process solutions, such as incentivizing local businesses to partner with SBHCs, facilitating collaboration between academic institutions and local providers, and updating guidance on laws governing information sharing.

Keywords: school-based health center; school health; school-community partnership; sustainability; adolescent health

How to cite: Acosta Price, Olga (2017), “Strategies to Encourage Long-Term Sustainability of School-Based Health Centers,” American Journal of Medical Research 4(1): 61–83.

Received 7 September 2016 • Received in revised form 7 January 2017
Accepted 7 January 2017 • Available online 25 January 2017


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Center for Health and Health Care in Schools,
Milken Institute School of Public Health,
Department of Prevention and Community Health,
The George Washington University

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