Senator Stabenow introduces new bipartisan bill to improve children’s physical and mental health by investing in school-based health centers

The Hallways to Health Care Act will help schools provide more services and better health care for students

WASHINGTON – Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) today introduced a new bill to help schools in Michigan provide comprehensive health care to students. The Hallways to Health Care Act will invest in the 140 school-based health centers in Michigan, which play a crucial role in providing health care to students who have limited access to medical care outside of school. It will also provide funding for the construction of new clinics across the state.

School-based health centers provide a combination of primary care, mental health care, substance abuse counseling, case management, dental health, nutrition education, health education and health promotion activities.

“School-based health centers play a critical role in providing care to so many children who don’t have access to a family doctor. They are also meeting a critical need for mental health services for children impacted by the COVID-19 crisis,” said Senator Stabenow. “My new bill with Senator Capito will make sure health center staff have the resources needed to provide these important services to students.”

“Dedicated and committed educators know that the real and persistent challenges of poverty and racial injustice can be overcome through traditional public education. However, the challenges of poverty and racial injustice bring medical and mental health obstacles that disrupt a focus on teaching and learning. Senator Stabenow understands this! This is why this investment would provide the resources to the schools that are best positioned to change the outcomes for children and communities. This is not just an investment in schools but most importantly an investment in a generation of children that deserve equitable funding to realize their potential and greatness,” said Superintendent of Detroit Public Schools Community District Dr. Nikolai P. Vitti.

“On behalf of Michigan’s children and youth, we want to thank Senator Stabenow for her long-standing support of increased access to health care and mental health services for children and commend the Senator for advocating on behalf of school-based health centers in her home state of Michigan and across the country. Her legislation, if passed, will have a tremendous impact on school-age children and youth across the country whose health care and mental health needs are underserved, especially coming out of a pandemic,” said Deb Brinson, Executive Director of the School-Community Health Alliance of Michigan. “By allowing these students increased access to primary care and mental health services, it will improve not only their physical and mental health well-being but their performance in the classroom. Healthy kids learn better, and so because of this funding, ultimately we’ll see more students excelling and graduating.”

Last year, Senators Stabenow and Capito successfully passed the School-Based Health Centers Reauthorization Act into law. This legislation authorized funding for school-based health centers through 2026.

The Hallways to Health Care Act would:

— Provide $200 million in new funding to help school-based health centers provide comprehensive health care to students nationwide.

— Provide $50 million in new funding specifically for expanding behavioral health care at school-based health centers.

— Provide $100 million for the construction of new clinics and improvements and expansions of existing clinics.

— Create demonstration programs to increase and establish telehealth services at school-based health centers.

— Ensure clinics can receive technical assistance to improve their services.

School-based health centers have continued to provide services to their patients throughout the COVID-19 crisis, with more than half of the centers offering telehealth services. Throughout the pandemic, school-based health centers have seen a 73% increase in the use of vital mental health services by children and adolescents. School-based health centers also regularly help coordinate school COVID-19 responses to keep students, teachers, and other employees safe.


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