Federal grants awarded on Thursday will help fund capital projects at 278 school-based health centers, the Department and Health and Human Services announced.
Although HHS has described the grants as the first installment of a three-year, $200 million program, the House passed in May a bill that would eliminate the program this year. HR 1214 has been assigned to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. It is considered unlikely that the Senate will schedule a vote on the bill.
Services provided at school-bases health centers include health screenings, health promotion, and disease prevention activities and wellness programs. They also enable children with acute or chronic illnesses to attend school. More than 350 centers applied for the grants.
The current grants, which were made available through the Affordable Care Act, will be used to help selected school-based health centers establish new sites or upgrade their current facilities. The funds are available for construction, renovation, and equipment but cannot be used to meet staffing needs, such as for school nurses. HHS estimates that the centers currently serve about 790,000 patients and that the awards will enable them to serve an additional 440,000 patients.
"We know that if kids aren't healthy then kids can't learn," said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in a press release. "These grants will make it a lot easier for working moms and dads to help get their children the healthcare they need and deserve... and help children succeed in the classroom."