Capps Announces $500,000 in Federal Funding to Expand School-Based Health Care Services in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties

Jul 15, 2011 Issues: Healthcare

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Lois Capps (CA-23) announced that Community Health Centers of the Central Coast (CHC) has been awarded a $500,000 grant from the Department of Health and Human Services to expand its school-based health care services for uninsured and low income children in both Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo County. Capps has long been a supporter of federal funding for school based health centers. The funding was included in the health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act.

The grant will allow CHC to purchase and outfit two new state-of-the-art mobile vans – one for primary care and the other for pediatric dental services. These two new mobile clinics will greatly deepen the reach of the school-based health care program into the communities already served and provide school children with low-cost preventive health and dental care. Currently, the school-based health center program is only accessible at seven schools in two school districts. The addition of the mobile medical and dental vans will allow the CHC to provide health care to children in at least twelve additional schools and four additional school districts.

“As a public health nurse who worked in the Santa Barbara school system for twenty years, I know that school-based health centers are often the sole source of primary health care for our children. Our school kids need access to the care school-based health centers provide, and they need it now to keep them healthy and to help make sure they are ready to learn. Expanding the number and reach of these centers is a clear win for our children,” said Capps.

“We were thrilled to learn that CHC had been awarded the school-based health grant. This funding will allow us to greatly expand access to uninsured students who are most at risk in our communities. We are extremely grateful to the Department of Health and Human Services, the Obama administration, and our local representatives – including Congresswoman Lois Capps – for supporting the School-Based Health Center program,” said Ron Castle, CEO of Community Health Centers of the Central Coast.

“These new investments will help school-based health centers establish new sites or upgrade their current facilities to keep our children healthy,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. “These new or improved sites will help ensure effective, efficient, and high-quality care.”

“We know that if kids aren’t healthy then kids can’t learn,” said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “These grants will make it a lot easier for working moms and dads to help get their children the health care they need and deserve. This unprecedented investment in school-based health care will bring communities closer together and help children succeed in the classroom.”

Presently, CHC’s school-based health care program services Arroyo Grande High School, Lopez Continuation High School, Nipomo High School, Santa Maria High School, Righetti High School, Pioneer Valley High School, and Delta High School. With the addition of mobile medical and dental vans, the school-based health center program will have the capability to serve Oceano Elementary, Grover Beach Elementary, Kermit McKenzie Elementary, Mary Buren Elementary, Paso Robles High School, Mesa View Community School, Chalk Mountain Community School, San Luis Obispo County Community School, Robert Bruce Elementary, Tunnel Elementary, and El Camino Junior High School.

CHC has provided two stories of students on the Central Coast who will benefit from the expanded school-based health center program.

José is a 10 year old student at Tunnell School. He has had a painful toothache for 3 months and finds it difficult to concentrate in class. His parents are uninsured and work in the fields every day until 7 or 8 pm and do not have the money to take José to the dentist. José frequently falls asleep in class because his parents have been giving him Mexican pain killers at night. If there were a mobile dental van at José’s school, he could receive dental treatment before losing his tooth.

Maria is a 5 year-old student at Oceano School and has had an earache for 10 days. Her parents live in a rural area and took her to a curandero (natural healer) who told them to roll up a newspaper and light it on fire and put it in Maria’s ear to alleviate the pain and infection. If there were an on-site mobile medical van at Maria’s school she could receive low cost antibiotics to treat her ear infection.