Members of the New York State Assembly representing New York City are advocating a long-term remedy to ensure the financial health of school-based health centers, which they say provide critical and cost-effective substance use prevention and other behavioral health services to school-age youths.
Writing in the Gotham Gazette, an online publication covering policy issues, Assembly members Robert Carroll and Jo Anne Simon outlined the effort to maintain operations of four school-based health centers run by SUNY Downstate Medical Center. The center has announced it will maintain operations for the four clinics during the current school year, after suggesting in June that changes in state non-Medicaid funding that slashed its budget would force it to cease operations for four of its five centers in the city.
The article cited an organizing effort from parents, community leaders and other stakeholders to rally support for the centers, an initiative that included an outpouring of personal stories about the efforts of a school-based health center. A total of 145 school-based health centers offer services to city schoolchildren, regardless of ability to pay.
[School-based health centers] are only one piece in a very complex and large health care system, but this experience has demonstrated that these small pieces often have a significant impact on the daily lives of New Yorkers and their children,” Carroll and Simon wrote.