School-Based Health Center Program
About School-Based Health Centers
The legislation defines a SBHC as “a collaboration between the community, the school, and a sponsoring [healthcare] agency that operates the school-based health center, which is a student-focused health center located in or adjacent to a school that provides integrated medical, behavioral health, and other health care services such as dental care.” The healthcare sponsor can be a community clinic, hospital, healthcare system, public health department, locally controlled tribal health clinic, and/or tribal health program.
Washington State’s first SBHC program began in Seattle in 1989. Today, there are over 65 SBHCs by more than 25 health care sponsors throughout the state. You can find more information on SBHCs on the Washington School-Based Health Alliance website.
Expanding School-Based Health Centers and Access to Behavioral Health Care
The Washington State Legislature passed Substitute House Bill 1225 in 2021. The new law (RCW 43.70.825) directs the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) to establish a school-based health center (SBHC) program to expand and sustain the availability of SBHCs to students in public schools, with a focus on communities and populations who have been historically underserved. See the Grant Information page for more details.
In 2021, DOH requested additional support for the new SBHC Program to respond to the growing mental and behavioral health needs of young people. This included a request for funding to expand and improve behavioral health screening, referral and care for adolescents and transition-age youth in both academic and nonacademic settings, including in SBHCs. See the Behavioral Health SBHC Grant Information page for more details.
In 2022, the SBHC program completed a Request for Applications and announced the first SBHC grant awards for organizations to plan, start-up, maintain operations, or improve behavioral health services at an SBHC in Washington.
Below are a few highlights from the 2022-2023 school year:
- Over 3,000 medical visits completed by grant-funded SBHCs.
- Over 4,000 behavioral health visits completed by grant-funded SBHCs.
- Two new grant-funded SBHCs opened their doors.
- All six planning grantees successfully completed a plan for starting a new SBHC.
SBHC Community Engagement
In 2022, DOH released a survey to gather information from SBHC partners across Washington on the SBHC grant program. See the 2022 SBHC Community Engagement Report for a summary of the survey responses.
DOH also launched the SBHC Community Advisory Board in spring 2023. The Community Advisory Board will share their thoughts, ideas, and recommendations on school-based health care and young people’s access to health care. Their work will help DOH’s SBHC program to make sure funding and activities are relevant and serve Washington’s young people.
The DOH SBHC program will continue to improve and expand the grant program based on feedback on the first year implementation and recommendations from partners and the SBHC Community Advisory Board. As part of these improvements, the SBHC program is updating requirements for clinical hours and operations at grant-funded SBHCs. SBHCs and SBHC partners can review the draft SBHC grant requirements and complete a survey (coming soon) to provide feedback until March 15, 2024.
Resources and Reports
- About School-Based Health Centers (PDF)
- School-Based Health Centers: 2023 Update (PDF)
- Implementation of RCW 43.70.825: Expanding School-Based Health Centers (PDF)
- Webinar slides - November 2022: Partnering with School-Based Health Centers to Improve Care for Young Patients (PDF)
- Brief: Mini-Grant Report 2023 (wasbha.org)
- Resources for Youth-Serving Providers (WA Portal)