Do School-based Health Services Reduce Academic and Behavioral Inequalities among Youth?

Do school-based health services and screening mandates improve academic and socio-behavioral outcomes among low-income youth?

This study examines the effects of school-based health centers (SBHC) and school screening mandates (SSM) on the academic and socio-behavioral outcomes of low-income youth, who are more likely to drop out of high school and experience behavioral problems that interfere with learning. Evidence suggests that public health insurance expansion can reduce inequality in such outcomes on the basis of income level, but we do not know whether policies that provide youth with direct access to health care have similar effects. Given the importance of good vision for learning, Boudreaux and colleagues will focus on vision screening mandates, and examine if these policies are more effective when coupled with public health insurance coverage. The team will test whether: 1) school vision screening mandates improve identification of students’ vision problems and reduce economic inequalities in vision outcomes; 2) school-based health centers reduce economic inequalities in student access to primary care services, mental health care, and dental and vision services; 3) SSMs and SBHCS reduce inequalities in academic achievement and socio-behavioral outcomes; and 4) the effects of SSMs and SBHCs are enhanced by public health insurance availability. This study will advance the field by using nationally representative data, from both the National Health Interview Survey and National Longitudinal Survey of Youth: Child and Young Adult Cohort, as well as several secondary data sources, to examine the effects of direct access to school-based care on a range of youth outcomes.