U.S. Senators Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) today announced that three New Jersey school-based health center programs will receive $1.468 million in Affordable Care Act funding to expand their services to more students. School-based health centers provide not only primary and preventive care, but also critical mental health and counseling services.
"Too often, children in need of preventive health care and mental health services fall through the cracks, with potentially disastrous effects for themselves and our society," said Senator Lautenberg, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which funds HHS. "Thanks to Obamacare, thousands of children in New Jersey will have better access to basic primary care--including mental health services, nutrition education, and substance abuse counseling--at school-based health centers."
"The horrific tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut is forcing our nation to confront not only the epidemic of gun violence, but the fact that mental health services -- especially for at-risk children -- are understaffed, underfunded and therefore too often underutilized by those who need them," said Senator Menendez. "But because of these Affordable Care Act grants, we are expanding the reach of school-based health centers so that more kids have access not only primary and preventive care, but the mental health and counseling services they need."
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), almost two-thirds of teens with a lifetime mental disorder fail to get professional help and those with severe mental disorders get treatment even less often. And according to the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors in the past three years, states have cut their funding of mental health services by $4.3 billion.
School-based health centers enable children with acute or chronic illnesses to attend school and improve the overall health and wellness of all children through health screenings, health promotion and disease prevention activities. Typically, a school-based clinic provides a combination of primary care, mental health care, substance abuse counseling, case management, dental health, nutrition education, health education and health promotion activities.
The $1.468 million in funding for New Jersey will be awarded as follows:
· Board of Education (Paterson, NJ) - $500,000. The Paterson School District will use the funding to construct clinics at P.S. No. 6, 137 Carroll Street, and P.S. No. 15, 98 Oak Street. The funding will also allow for space to be allotted at both schools for mental health counseling services. When completed, these will be the fourth and fifth full-service community schools in Paterson. The others are P.S. No. 5, 430 Totowa Ave., the New Roberto Clemente School, 482-506 Market Street, and Dr. Frank Napier School, 55 Clinton Street.
· Jewish Renaissance Medical Center (Perth Amboy, NJ) - $500,000. JRMC's Newark School-Based Health Center (NSBHC) Program offers the full continuum of community-based medical, dental, and behavioral care for high-risk infants, children, and youth. Currently situated in five (5) schools dispersed throughout the City of Newark, our NSBHCs presently serve a growing caseload of approximately 8,000 children and youth. These funds will enable JRMC to convert a former recreational room located within the Thirteenth Avenue School to a licensed school-based health center, help expand their program into the Park Elementary School, and support a mobile health unit.
· Ocean Health Initiatives (Lakewood, NJ) - $467,999. Ocean Health Initiatives will use these funds to build another school based program in an Ocean county school.
A total of $80 million for 197 school-based health center programs were awarded nationwide. The Affordable Care Act provides $200 million in funding from fiscal years 2010 -- 2013 for the School-Based Health Center Capital Program (SBHCCP). Today's grants are the third in the series of awards that is made available to school-based health centers under the Affordable Care Act. For a full list of awards, visit: www.hrsa.gov/about/news/2012tables/121218schoolbasedawards.html.