In 2012, Emory University’s Department of Pediatrics Urban Health Program received a grant from Healthcare Georgia Foundation to fund the start-up of three comprehensive school-based health centers. The goals and objectives for this project included (but were not limited to):
- Increased access to healthcare for the uninsured, Medicaid and CHIP eligible children and adolescents;
- Improved health outcomes for underserved children and adolescents;
- Improved academic achievement through reduced absenteeism
Three sites were chosen based on the communities’ previous planning activities. They represent three disparate communities located in rural, urban and semi-rural counties throughout the state:
- Lake Forest Elementary in Sandy Springs (Fulton County). This urban school has a large Hispanic population and a high free/reduced lunch rate.
- Tiger Creek Elementary in Tunnel Hill (Catoosa County). This school is in a rural community and also has a high free/reduced lunch rate.
- Turner Elementary in Albany (Dougherty County) located in an urban/rural community with a high free/reduced lunch rate.
Local federally qualified health centers were chosen to serve as medical sponsors for these health centers. Their mission to provide health care to the undeserved along with their capacity to sustain the centers through enhanced Medicaid reimbursement made them an optimal choice.
Medical sponsors included:
- Family Health Centers of Georgia, Inc. – Lake Forest Elementary SBHC
- Primary Healthcare Center of Dade, Inc. – Tiger Creek Elementary SBHC
- Albany Area Primary Health Care Center, Inc. – Turner Elementary SBHC
All sites opened in 2013 and are providing medical, behavioral health, and health education services to the students and their siblings, school staff, and in some cases the community at large (Tiger Creek). Tiger Creek and Turner provides dental services as well.
In 2016, a second grant was received from the Jesse Parker Williams Foundation to fund the start-up of two comprehensive school-based health centers located in Atlanta Public Schools. They were opened in September 2016 and include:
- Lenora P. Miles Elementary located in southwest Atlanta staffed by H.E.A.L., Inc.
- Dobbs Elementary located in southeast Atlanta staffed by Southside Medical Center, Inc.
More recently, funding has been received from Zeist, R. Howard Dobbs, and Jesse Parker Williams Foundations to support SBHC start-ups at Chatsworth Elementary, Hollis Innovation Academy, and a mobile unit serving several schools in DeKalb County.
The growth continues as result of expanding partnerships between PARTNERS, federally qualified health centers, school systems, hospitals, state legislature, state agencies, advocacy organizations and philanthropy.