School-Based Health and Mental Health
Over the past two years, the Washington County Commission on Children and Families has provided leadership and staffing to a broad based collaboration focused on improving the health of children and youth in Washington County.
In October 2006, the Commission and its partners formally organized the Washington County School Based Health Center (SBHC) Initiative. To date, the SBHC Initiative has involved over 25 community partners, including school districts and higher education institutions, health systems and hospitals, health and mental health providers and other private and public sector funders and organizations.
The mission of the Washington County SBHC Initiative is to support development of SBHCs throughout Washington County. SBHCs are a proven strategy for increasing access of children and youth – particularly those who are uninsured and underserved - to culturally and developmentally appropriate prevention, primary health and mental health services.
This Initiative is unique for three reasons: 1) the breadth and depth of collaboration among organizations and across systems in Washington County; 2) the commitment among these partners to community mobilization for increasing access to healthcare, including outreach efforts to increase the enrollment of eligible children and youth in the Oregon Health Plan; and 3) a robust model of care, supported by integrated electronic medical records, and a sustainable business plan that both is innovative and replicable.
The Initiative projects that SBHCs can be financially self sustaining within three years: maximizing program income by billing public and private insurers while minimizing the need for on going grant support.
When the Initiative began there was only one SBHC in Washington County. It was located in an alternative high school and accessible to fewer than 100 of the more than 83,000 students enrolled in Washington County’s seven school districts.
As a result of the SBHC Initiative, a new Tigard High School Health Center was opened in April 2008. Now primary health and mental health services that are offered through the Tigard SBHC are accessible to 2,000 students enrolled at Tigard High, and also are available on an appointment basis to the other 11,000 students in the Tigard-Tualatin School District.
In winter 2009 the SBHC Initiative will open its second new SBHC, at Forest Grove High School. This SBHC will increase accessibility to health, mental health and substance abuse services for over 8,000 students in the Forest Grove, Banks and Gaston School districts.
During the next three school years, the SBHC Initiative plans to develop another SBHC in the Tigard-Tualatin School District, at Tualatin High School, as well as two new SBHCs that will be sited at mainstream high schools in the Beaverton and Hillsboro School Districts.
The Washington County Commission on Children and Families has contributed $10,000 of Children, Youth and Families flexible funds to the SBHC Initiative, and dedicated significant time by Commission staff, funded with Local Basic Capacity funds, to support coordination of the Initiative, community planning efforts, SBHC budget and resource development and operational technical assistance.
To date, these investments have leveraged more than $1.4 million in grants and financial commitments, from 15 different public and private funders, to expand the development of SBHCs and increase healthcare access in Washington County.
Learn more about Forest Grove and Tigard School-Based Health centers on Virginia Garcia Memorial Health