Kentucky Youth Advocates Study Shows Variations in School Health Systems

by Gabe Bullard on March 31, 2011

A new study from Kentucky Youth Advocates shows that school health services for children vary significantly from district to district in the commonwealth.

KYA asserts that schools are the best places for children to receive certain types of medical attention, including as physical, dental and mental care. But not all districts provide each service.

Executive Director Terry Brooks says there’s no standard way for schools to pay for student health, and the methods use differ across the state. For example, in northern Kentucky, private donations pay for many services, though that can be problematic.

“That school nurse is only as good as the latest foundation grant. In other parts of Kentucky, you see extensive collaboration between health departments and public schools,” he says.

Brooks says Jefferson County Public Schools pays for many health services out of its operating budget, but that’s not always the case in the rest of┬ácentral Kentucky, where Medicaid dollars are generally unavailable to school health workers.

“The Passport region is kind of like this hole in the doughnut where school districts are left to flounder for themselves because it’s difficult, in fact it’s impossible, to work out what we would consider common sense reciprocal agreements,” says Brooks.

Brooks is urging Governor Steve Beshear and the General Assembly to make it easier for Medicaid providers to administer care to students in schools. Brooks says that’s the best way to make sure students are cared for. A spokesperson for the governor’s office says they are reviewing the report. To read the study, click here (PDF).

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