The name of our project is Improving Health Among Youth in Rural Appalachia: Enhancing School-Based Health Centers. I am the community leader. The two researchers, one is at Penn State University, and the other is at Child Trends.
What we’re studying is the school-based health center model. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of school-based health centers before, but they are nation-wide. Here in West Virginia, they started in the mid-90s. Our state has more school-based health centers per capita than any state in the country, and we have some of the oldest in the country. They’re a great health delivery model to ensure kids have access to comprehensive health care.
We’ve never had anyone study the efficacy of them, the challenges they face, and the opportunities to expand the model and address some of the incredible health inequities that our kids face here in West Virginia, whether that be due to poverty, the rural landscape, or to the ongoing drug crisis.
My interest is to try and promote the model to address some of these inequities. For our IRL project, we’ve done a number of interviews with providers around the state who work in these school-based health centers to hear what works, what doesn’t work, opportunities to do better, and the potential policy reform efforts that I could undertake to help them reach out to the kids who are in need of services.