September 19th, 2018
ACPeds Parent Talk

Keeping parents up to date on the latest news in child and teen health
School-Based Health Centers: Friend or Foe?

On the surface, the idea of School Based Health Centers (SBHCs) sounds great. T ypically located in low-income areas in which the majority of kids and teens are uninsured and without access to routine medical care , these centers can provide students with immunizations, screenings for vision, hearing and scoliosis, sports physicals, annual check-ups, nutrition counseling, mental-health services, dental screenings, and prescriptions. They are meant to be “ catalysts for broad, school-wide wellness student social and emotional health, healthy eating, and active living .”

With cold and flu season upon us, as well as increasing rates of children dealing with chronic illnesses like diabetes , ADHD , and depression , it's understandbale that the idea of school based health clinics currently enjoys widespread support even in Congress.
While school based health centers are convenient and can provide important medical care, parents must be aware of their state's laws regarding adolescent confidentiality in healthcare.
For example, many school-based health clinics provide gynecologic exams, contraception, abortion referrals and mental health referrals without parental knowledge or consent in compliance with state law.

As a result, these SBHCs may also allow abortion rights activists access to our children as both NARAL Pro-Choice America and Advocates for Youth (the youth partner organization of Planned Parenthood) have offered their support for these centers. NARAL even openly admits that “ some SBHCs are linked with major medical organizations that offer abortion services – like hospitals or Planned Parenthoods .”
These School-Based Health Centers are already up and running in schools across the country. According to NARAL, SBHCs first were established in the 1970s in Texas and Minnesota and now there are approximately 2,000 across the country .
Is there a School-Based Health Center at or coming to your child’s school? 

If so, here are 7 questions recently published in an article by Family Watch International for parents to ask about their child’s School-Based Health Center to ensure that their parental rights are protected:

  1. Who will be responsible if negative consequences result from care given within the school without a parent’s knowledge or consent? Is the district or school ready to assume the legal risks?
  2. Are there any other agencies that partner with the school to provide care to our children at the Center? If so, what entities? For example, does the SBHC center have any association with a Planned Parenthood organization?
  3. Will parents be informed if their child seeks to identify as the opposite gender? Will the center be providing puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, or counseling to help gender-confused children try to transition?
  4. Will the SBHC be able to refer children for abortions?
  5. What injections and/or insertions can the SBHC give my child without my knowledge or consent—on or off school property (in the case of an off-site referral)?
  6. How and when will I be informed if my child has accessed mental health services at the SBHC or if my child has been referred to an off-site agency for mental health care?
  7. Specifically, to what agencies, which may be off-site, can the SBHC refer my child?
These questions are designed to get you the truth so you can make an informed decision before allowing your child to receive services and care from a school-based health center. Less than 20 years ago , more than 9 in 10 school-based health centers required parental consent for services when students enrolled in the school, and almost two-thirds allowed parents to give consent but restrict their children's access to specific services . This may still be the case, but for your protection and your child’s well-being, if your child has a school-based health center onsite at his or her school, make sure to stop by for a visit so you can ask the above questions to whoever is in charge.

For best results, Family Watch International advises parents to request “accurate and complete responses to these questions in writing, and in a timely manner.” That way, if your child does ever require medical attention at school, you’ll be confident that your child’s needs will be met in a way that holds true to your family’s values.

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