ROCKFORD (WIFR) – Rockford Public Schools has received a $500,000 federal grant that will allow the district to move forward with a school-based health center, which will provide services to more than 3,000 students.
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services awarded more than $80 million to 197 school-based health centers across the country. An additional 384,000 students nationwide will be served by the centers.
Rockford’s school-based health center – a partnership with Crusader Community Health -- will provide medical, dental, behavioral, social, nutritional and optical services. Other community partners include Rosecrance Health Network, Swedish American Health System and Dr. William Hillman of the Primary Eye Care Center of Rockford.
The center will be located on the campus of Auburn High School, Kennedy Middle School, McIntosh Elementary School and Wilson ASPIRE. An estimated 3,000 students attend these schools in Rockford’s most economically challenged neighborhoods. Offering health services at the school campus makes it easier for parents who may not have access to transportation. Good health care increases attendance and increases learning.
“The need for these services is well documented and will enable children with acute or chronic illnesses to attend school as well as help improve their overall health and wellness through health screenings, health promotion and disease prevention,” Gordon Eggers, Crusader CEO, said.
The federal grant will cover half of the center’s start-up costs, and is made possible under the Affordable Care Act. The district also received a $50,000 grant from the state. The center is expected to operate five days a week, year-round. District officials anticipate the center will open this summer, in time to provide school physicals and sports physicals for the 2013-14 school year.