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    Texas School Health Program
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School-Based Health Centers

Photo of a group of kids representing School-Based Health CentersTexas Department of State Health Services
School Health Program

Featured Resources

Partnering with School-Based Health Centers: What Schools Need to Know Handbook for School Personnel

School-Based Health Centers and Prevention Services
A study conducted in 2009 of selected SBHCs across the country. The purpose of the study was to gather information about how SBHCs are implementing prevention services, the financing mechanisms utilized, and the monitoring and evaluation methods implemented to assess the SBHC’s impact on students. One of the six sites was Hart SBHC located in Hart, Texas. To learn more, click here: ASPE Report 

Benefits of Providing Mental Health Services in a SBHC

SBHCs: On the Front Line for Mental Health

Resources from the Texas Department of State Health Services - Mental Health and Substance Abuse Division

Featured Resources


The following information was developed to provide answers to questions about school-based health centers and offer technical support through resources, links and references. Click on any of the underlined categories below to bring up the desired information. 


What is a school-based health center?

What are the benefits of a school-based health center?

What is the history of school-based health centers?

What services are provided in a school-based health center?

  • Physical Health Services
  • Mental Health Services
  • Health Promotion Activities
  • Dental Services
  • Additional Services

What is the role of the Texas Department of State Health Services as it relates to school-based health centers?

  • Funding for school-based Health Centers and sample RFP
  • School-based health center funded programs
  • Annual reports
  • Technical Assistance

How is a school-based health center staffed?

What does a school-based health center look like?

  • Health care tailored to the community
  • Each center varies in size and shape
  • Recommendations for space and equipment
  • Resources


  • Costs and funding
  • Guidebooks
  • Organizations
  • Research
  • Tools

What is a school-based health center?
A school-based health center provides comprehensive preventive and primary health care services to students on a school campus. While school-based health centers vary to meet the community’s needs, there are general characteristics of all school-based health centers. The following are descriptions of those characteristics:

  • School-based health centers are designed to serve all students with a focus on the uninsured and underserved.
  • An advisory board of community representatives, parents, youth and family organizations participate in planning and oversight of the health center.
  • A school-based health center is staffed by a multidisciplinary team including nurse practitioners, physicians, clinical social workers, psychologists, nutritionists, dentists, dental hygienists and administrators.
  • The school-based health center works cooperatively with school nurses, coaches, counselors, classroom teachers, and school principals and their staff to assure that the school-based health center is an integral part of the life of the school.
  • Written consents signed by parents are required for children before services can be provided in the school-based health center.
  • Clinical services are the responsibility of a qualified health provider (hospital, community health center, health department, group medical practice, etc.)
  • The school-based health center provides a comprehensive range of services that specifically meets the serious health problems of young people as well as provides general medical care.

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What are the benefits of a school-based health center?

  • Attends to unmet health care needs by placing health care where the kids are and when they need it.
  • Supports students by providing a safe place to talk about sensitive issues such as depression, family problems, relationships, and substance abuse
  • Supports the school environment by helping children stay in school and by identifying and addressing health problems that may intervene in the learning process
  • Supports families by allowing parents to stay at work while attending to their child’s routine health care needs
  • Saves money by keeping children out of hospitals and emergency rooms
  • Teaches students to be better health care consumers
  • Strengthens the connection between the community and the school

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What is the history of school-based health centers?
School-based health centers started in the 1970s with the first centers opening in Dallas, Texas and St. Paul, Minnesota. Today, there are approximately 1,700 centers across the country located in 45 states plus the District of Columbia. State funding has been a leading factor in the growth of school-based health centers over the past decade primarily Text Box: “Health services need to be where students can trip over them.through state general funds and the Maternal and Child Health Block Grant under Title V of the Social Security Act. In recent years, states have tapped into other resources such as tobacco taxes and funds from tobacco settlement dollars to fund school-based health centers.

For more information on school-based health centers in the United States, please visit the National Assembly on School-Based Health Care website.

Today, there are approximately 85 school-based health centers serving the children of Texas as reported by the Texas Association of School-Based Health Centers. Most of these centers are located in a permanent facility on a school campus. The centers on average are open for treatment about 40 hours per week for physical health care, 37 hours per week for mental health care and about 4 hours per week for dental care.

School-Based Health Centers in Texas

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How is a school-based health center staffed?
Each school-based health center is staffed by a multi-disciplinary team of health care professionals. The staff may include a physician/medical director, nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant, registered nurse, school nurse, social worker, psychologist, licensed professional counselor and receptionist. Some school-based health centers also employ dental providers including dentists, dental hygienists and dental assistants. The school-based health center can also have linkages with a hospital and/or other providers to accept referrals for complex health problems and to provide services to students during hours when the school-based health center is not open.

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Texas School Health LogoFor more information contact:
Kelly Hickman, MPH, School-Based Health Center Program Specialist
School Health Program
Texas Department of State Health Services

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Last updated September 17, 2015