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School-based health services (SBHS) are a convenient, powerful, yet underused strategy to meet student needs and increase equitable access to healthcare. At a time when the nation is combating a youth mental health crisis and federal education funding is at an all-time high, state leaders can do more to leverage federal funding streams, partnerships, policies, and capacity building to expand SBHS.

SBHS include screening for vision, dental, hearing problems; manage medications and chronic conditions like asthma and diabetes; treat minor injuries; vaccinate; and offer nutrition services, physical therapy, sexual health services, referrals, behavioral health services (e.g., substance use prevention, mental health screenings), and more. School health providers include nurses, psychologists, behavioral health specialists, speech-language pathologists, and physical therapists, and states determine their licensure and training requirements. Some states require a minimum number of licensed personnel: Vermont and Delaware, for example, require a full-time nurse in every school. …

Enhancing School-Based Health Services

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