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Celebrate School-Based and School-Linked Health Center Awareness Month in February
Local Health Centers are Key to Academic Success

Contact: Angela Minicuci (517) 241-2112

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 2, 2012

LANSING - Governor Rick Snyder is proclaiming February as School-Based Health Center Awareness Month in Michigan. Today there are approximately 100 centers and programs in Michigan serving more than 200,000 children of all grade levels in urban, rural, and suburban schools and communities across the state.

In line with the national awareness effort, the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH), Michigan Department of Education (MDE), the School-Community Health Alliance of Michigan (SCHA-MI) and the American Public Health Association, along with its membership of school-based and school-linked health centers, held a press conference at noon today, Feb. 2, in the Speaker's Library at the State Capitol.

Youth advisory councils from local health centers were invited to participate in an Awareness Month contest. Youth's creative presentations demonstrating the 2012 theme, School-Based and School-Linked Health Centers are the "Key" to Academic Success, will be showcased in the Capitol Rotunda the week of Jan. 30 - Feb. 3.

"School-based health centers improve children's access to health care by overcoming barriers such as lack of health insurance, transportation difficulties, having to miss school, and unawareness of which vaccines are recommended for various age groups," said Olga Dazzo, Director of the MDCH. "These centers serve an important function for students who have the most difficulty obtaining care through a traditional care delivery system and allow them to receive the quality health protection they need."

School-based health centers, also recognized as Child and Adolescent Health Centers (CAHC), bring access to health care right to the place students spend a majority of their time: school. These health centers have proven to markedly improve educational outcomes and are a low cost, effective model for providing health care to students.

"Child and Adolescent Health Centers bring resources to schools so that health issues are not a barrier to learning," explains Michele Strasz, Executive Director of SCHA-MI. "Attendance goes up, behavioral problems go down, there are fewer dropouts, and students are more likely to succeed. The School-Community Health Alliance is a statewide voice for school-based health care as a key to improved student health and achievement." 

A school-based health center is similar a doctor's office, but is located inside a school. They provide students with quality primary and mental health services in a safe, easily accessible location on or near a school campus. These centers and programs are strategically located in medically underserved communities where access to health care for youth is an issue.

"The future of Michigan depends on having healthy and successful students now - and these centers play an integral role in making it happen," said Mike Flanagan, state Superintendent of Public Instruction with the MDE.

School-based health centers have a proven track record when it comes to health and educational outcomes for Michigan's children and youth. Michigan State University's recent study, the Michigan Evaluation of School-based Health (MESH), reviewed the impact of Child and Adolescent Health Centers on the health and health behaviors of Michigan's children and youth.

Findings from the study document that CAHCs are associated with a wide-range of health benefits for the entire student population, including greater self-esteem, less physical and emotional discomfort, and eating more healthy foods. CAHCs are an important component of school environments that support student health and achievement, whether students directly use CAHC services or not.

More resources for celebrating SBHC Awareness Month are available online at www.scha-mi.org. More information about Michigan's school-based and school-linked health programs is available online at www.michigan.gov/CAHC.

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