For Immediate Release
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School-based health centers key to aiding national dropout crisis, says American Public Health Association

New APHA Center for School, Health and Education launches website to address school dropout crisis as a public health issue

Washington, D.C., November 15, 2011 –The American Public Health Association’s new Center for School, Health and Education today launched its website, www.schoolbasedhealthcare.org, the latest tool to advance the Center’s mission of improving health, well-being and educational success of all students. The website hosts a growing library of articles and the latest research on social and health barriers to graduation to help inform policymakers, educators and the community about the public health issues that contribute to the national dropout rate.

“Many social factors driving some students to drop out of school such as poverty, drug use and violence also present barriers to their health, well-being and safety,” said Alan Baker, interim executive director of APHA. “School dropout is just as much an education issue as it is a public health concern. Educational success starts with healthy students, and children and teens who complete high school are more likely to have a lifetime of better health and economic opportunities.”

Nearly one-third of all students in the U.S. do not graduate from high school on time. For black, Latino and American Indian students, the dropout rate is 50 percent. Students who do not graduate from high school are at greater risk of experiencing negative social, economic, political, health and criminal justice outcomes.

Data show that students who receive health and social support are more likely to stay in school and get better grades. Numerous studies have shown too, that students who use school-based health centers have better grades and attendance compared to students who do not use centers. School-based health centers have the capacity to impact dropout by creating school-wide policies and programs that address a wide range of social and health barriers, including those that ensure healthier food in the cafeteria, address depression and prevent suicide, prevent teen pregnancy, prevent bullying, reduce school violence and support student’s ability to thrive in the classroom.

“School-based health center staff play a critically important role in recognizing the social factors and stressors students face and can work with the school and community to remove those barriers so students stay in school and stay healthy,” said Terri D. Wright, director of the Center for School, Health and Education.

The Center, established within APHA as part of a two-year grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, aims to build on the success of the School-Based Health Care Policy Program, a six-year initiative that generated significant changes in policy at the local, state and federal levels to stabilize and grow school-based health care. The Center is now working to expand the role of school-based health centers across the country,  protect federal funding for them, and ensure that reauthorization of federal education policy includes comprehensive student health and wellness measures.

Visitors have the opportunity to stay connected with the Center through APHA’s social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter. Advocates can also opt to receive periodic email announcements as well as to take action on relevant advocacy items.

For more about APHA, visit www.apha.org.

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Founded in 1872, the APHA is the oldest and most diverse organization of public health professionals in the world. The association aims to protect all Americans and their communities from preventable, serious health threats and strives to assure community-based health promotion and disease prevention activities and preventive health services are universally accessible in the United States. APHA represents a broad array of health providers, educators, environmentalists, policy-makers and health officials at all levels working both within and outside governmental organizations and educational institutions. More information is available at www.apha.org.