State Sen. Dante Bartolomeo (D-13th), who is Senate Chair of the Children’s Committee, joined a press conference this morning at which the value of Connecticut’s many school-based health centers was highlighted and emphasized.
The event was held to counter any effort in the upcoming budget-making process to limit funding for these facilities. Sen. Bartolomeo and other lawmakers said statistics gleaned using results-based accountability techniques underscore the success with which Connecticut’s school-based health centers deliver services to our children and adolescents.
According to a 2011 report by the legislature’s non-partisan Program Review and Investigations Committee, Connecticut currently has 71 SBHCs, 57 of which serve adolescent students ages 10 to 19. 43,100 students of all ages were enrolled in school-based health centers statewide in 2009, and the most frequent visits were for mental health reasons (32%).
“I’m all in favor of cutting wasteful spending at the state and local government level, but this isn’t one of those instances,” Sen. Bartolomeo said. “Eliminating $5.5 million in state funding for a public health service which has proven to be successful is what my grandparents would call being 'penny wise and pound foolish'.”
Sen. Bartolomeo was joined by Appropriations Committee Co-Chair Sen. Toni Harp (D-New Haven) and her Children’s Committee Co-Chair Rep. Diana Urban (D-North Stonington).
“My experience with school-based health centers is first-hand and longstanding. My town was among the very first to open a school-based health clinic nearly 25 years ago, and now New Haven has 18 school-based health clinics,” Senator Harp said. “And since we all remain so painfully reminded of the horror in Newtown that happened three months ago today, it’s important to remember school-based health clinics have always successfully addressed students’ behavioral health care needs as well, providing non-stigmatized behavioral health services and a place the child can go to start processing the event and have any residual issues immediately addressed.”
“The Results Based Accountability Study on school based health centers has data that is irrefutable,” Rep. Urban said. “Mental health was the greatest demand. We need to fully fund and expand the program.”
The lawmakers said the mental health services working group of the legislative gun task force recently and overwhelmingly supported increasing the number of school-based health clinics. Also, last year’s school reform law included 20 new school-based health clinics. That law acknowledged that the services provided in these clinics goes hand-in-hand with improved school outcomes, but none of these planned and budgeted new or expanded school-based health clinics have yet been started.
Submitted press release