What is a School-Based Health Center?
Watch this video to learn more about School-Based Health Centers
The Office of School Health (OSH), a collaborative effort between the New York City Department of Education (DOE) and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) manages the school-based health center (SBHC) program for New York City (NYC). Primarily located in areas with limited access to health care services, SBHCs have been providing on-site primary care to students for over 20 years. SBHCs are like a doctor’s office within a school and provide a great benefit to students. Research shows that SBHC can help a student manage his/her illness at school and, therefore, decrease absenteeism from school and parents’ time away from work as well as fewer hospitalizations and trips to the emergency room. A student that is healthy and shows up to class is better equipped for academic success. There are 138 SBHC serving over 330 schools in the five boroughs of NYC.
School-based health centers are operated by Article 28, independent institutions; usually local hospitals, medical centers, or community-based organizations. The SBHC medical staff are not DOE employees; however, they go through the same security checks and fingerprinting as DOE employees. SBHCs are usually staffed by a multi-disciplinary team, which may include a nurse practitioner/physician assistant, physician, mental health professional, social worker, medical assistant, and health aide.
The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) oversees the performance of all SBHCs to assure that they are providing high-quality care.
- List of all the SBHCs in NYC, please click here (updated June 2014)
- SBHC fact sheet, please click here (updated June 2014)
SBHC can serve as a student's Primary Care Provider (PCP) or complement services provided by an outside PCP. It provides scheduled and walk-in services when schools are in session and 24-hour telephone coverage to assist with problems that may arise when the SBHC is closed. SBHCs provide three primary services in a school:
1. Primary care and preventive health services such as: (a) comprehensive physical examinations, including those for sports, working papers, and new admissions; (b) mandated school health services, including screenings for vision, hearing, asthma, obesity, scoliosis, tuberculosis and other medical conditions; and (c) medical care and treatment for chronic illness and disease, including dispensing and prescribing of medications.
2. First aid care to all students registered in the building.
3. Emergency care to anyone in need on school premises.
Some SBHCs provide additional services such as mental health care, reproductive health services (high schools only), optometry services, and dental care. Often, SBHC staff participates in their school’s health education programs. If a service is not directly provided by the SBHC, the staff may refer students to outside specialists when needed.
In high schools only, SBHCs provide access to reproductive health services. These services may include: health education and counseling for the prevention of risk-taking behaviors such as drug and alcohol abuse and smoking, as well as education on abstinence and prevention of pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, and HIV; counseling and access to contraception, testing for pregnancy, PAP smears, referrals for abnormal PAPs, and screening and treatment for sexually transmitted infections; and referral and follow-up for reproductive health conditions requiring further evaluation and treatment.
SBHCs encourage and desire parental involvement in a student’s use of reproductive health services. However as per New York State law, minors are allowed to consent to their own care for the following services: (a) reproductive health services, including contraception and prenatal care; and (b) testing for and treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV.
SBHC Enrollment and Parental Consent
A signed Parental Consent Form is required for students to receive all services. SBHCs can only provide full comprehensive health care services for students who are enrolled; therefore, it is important for parents to enroll their child by returning a signed Parental Consent Form to the SBHC. If a student is enrolled in a SBHC, he or she will receive the same care that they would get at a doctor’s office. The SBHC can help a student manage his/her illness(es) at school.
Parental Consent Form Grades PK-8 (English)This Form is also available in Arabic | Bengali | Chinese | Haitian-Creole | Korean | Russian | Spanish | Urdu
SBHCs provide quality medical care free of charge to students regardless of insurance or immigration status. SBHCs do not bill students or parents for the care they receive. However, providers do bill Medicaid and private insurances as a source of revenue to sustain and expand SBHC services. Therefore, it is important for parents to provide to the SBHC medical insurance information when they enroll their child. If a child is not insured, the SBHC may be able to help the child and his or her family to obtain free or low cost public health insurance. For more information on eligibility for public health insurance please click here
For a sample Parental Consent Form, please click the links below:
Parental Consent Form Grades 9-12 (English)This Form is also available in Arabic | Bengali | Chinese | Haitian-Creole | Korean | Russian | Spanish | Urdu
While SBHCs work closely with principals and other school staff members, individual student records are confidential under HIPAA regulations and information can not be shared with school staff without parental consent. Exceptions to this rule include immunization information and DOE and public health forms.
Click on the appropriate link below for more information about School-Based Health Centers:
Resources and Publications
Creating a New SBHC
Frequently Asked Questions
If you have any questions please contact Dr. Marcelo De Stefano, Director, SBHC, Dental Clinics, and Health Insurance at email@example.com or Solluz Melendez, Program Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org