School-Based Health Centers

What are School-Based Health Centers?

  • School-Based Health Centers are medical health centers within the schools. They help students manage their illnesses during the school day. Because of the location, School Based Health Center are an easy health care option for busy students with busy parents who cannot always make it to their doctor’s office.
  • School-Based Health Centers have been providing primary care to students in NYC schools for over 25 years.
  • It’s been proven that School-Based Health Centers lower school absences and parents’ time away from work! They also lower the chance of an emergency room or hospital visit. If your child has a chronic illness, or suddenly gets sick, a School-Based Health Center at your school can assist your child with care. 
  • School-Based Health Centers are run by local hospitals, medical centers, and community organizations. The NY State Department of Health and NYC Department of Health oversee all School-Based Health Centers to make sure that they are providing excellent care to the students.
  • Did you know that over 333 schools in NYC have School-Based Health Centers? Check the list of all School-Based Health Centers in NYC to see if your child’s school has one.

Staffing and Services Provided

Your School-Based Health Center is staffed with a team of health care professionals. The team may include a physician, nurse practitioner, physician assistant, mental health professional, social worker, medical assistant, and health educators. Your School-Based Health Center does not replace your child’s primary care physician. They add to the care already provided by your child’s primary care physician.

Your School-Based Health Center can serve as your child’s primary care physician, if your child currently does not have one.

Your School-Based Health Center offers scheduled and walk-in student health services when schools are open. It also has a 24-hour telephone service to respond to your concerns. Call it if any problems arise when your School-Based Health Center is closed.

School-Based Health Centers provide many services for the students, click here to learn more

  • Primary care and preventive health services:
    • physical exams for sports, working papers, and new admissions.
    • required school health services, such as vaccines, and tests for vision, hearing, asthma, obesity, scoliosis, tuberculosis and other medical conditions.
    • medical care for chronic illness and disease, including prescribing and giving out medicines.
    • referrals to specialty care outside of the School-Based Health Center for conditions that the Center cannot care for.
  • First aid care to all students attending school in the building.
  • Emergency care to anyone in need in the school building.
  • Mental health services on site or by referral, including crisis intervention.
  • Health education, as well as working with schools on their health education programs.
  • Counseling to prevent drug and alcohol abuse and smoking.
  • Dental Services at select School-Based Health Center sites.
  • Age-appropriate teen reproductive health services. This includes health education on abstaining from sexual activity, pregnancy prevention, and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV. School-Based Health Center staff offer counseling and access to pregnancy testing, birth control methods, and tests and treatment for STIs. Staff also provide referrals for conditions needing further evaluation.

School-Based Health Centers encourage parental involvement in a student’s use of reproductive health services. However, as per NY State law, minors are legally allowed to consent to their own care for reproductive health services, such as birth control and care during pregnancy (prenatal care), testing for and treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV.

Enroll your Child in a School-Based Health Center

To enroll your child in a School-Based Health Center, sign a Parental Consent Form. You can get the form at the School-Based Health Center in your child’s school. School Based Health Center can only provide full health care services for students who are enrolled.

School-Based Health Centers provide medical care to students regardless of insurance or immigration status. They do not bill students or parents for the care they receive. However, they do bill Medicaid and private insurances. It is important for parents to provide the School-Based Health Center with insurance information when they enroll their child.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is my child required to enroll in the School-Based Health Center?

No, your child is not required to enroll. However, it is strongly encouraged so that they can have access to health care such as:

  • Vaccines
  • Physical exams (for sports, working papers, and new admissions)
  • Diagnose and treat illness
  • Prescribe and in some situations give medication
  • Provide other care similar to your child’s doctor

If your child is not enrolled, the School-Based Health Center can only provide first aid and emergency care and those services for which minors can consent to their own treatment.

How can I enroll my child in the School-Based Health Center?

To enroll your child, you should complete and return the Parental Consent Form to your School-Based Health Center. The form is available at your child’s school.

What kind of care will my child receive?

If your child is enrolled in the School-Based Health Center they will get the same care that they would get at a doctor’s office. The School-Based Health Center can manage your child’s illness(es) at school which can prevent missed school days. The School-Based Health Center will not provide care to your child without your knowledge and consent. However, there is an exception for reproductive health services in high schools. NY State law allows minors to consent to their own care for the below services:

  • Reproductive health services, including contraception and prenatal care
  • Testing for and treatment of STIs, including HIV
  • Mental health counseling and treatment
  • Substance abuse treatment

What is the cost?

There is no out of pocket cost to you for the services provided by the School Based Health Center.

Does a student need to have health insurance to be seen at the School-Based Health Center?

School-Based Health Centers provide care to students whether or not they have insurance. If the student has Medicaid, or other insurance, it is important to inform the School-Based Health Center so that they will be able to bill for the services.

Every child in New York can get health insurance, even if they are undocumented immigrants. If your child is not insured, the School-Based Health Center can connect you with a Public Health Insurance enroller.

If my child goes to the School-Based Health Center, will this count toward my yearly number of doctor visits?

No. Medicaid allows children who have a primary care provider outside of school to be seen at School-Based Health Centers without any impact to the care they get from their doctor.

If there is no cost, why do you need my child’s insurance information?

School-Based Health Centers can bill insurances for many of the services they provide. We will provide care at no cost to the parent, but we ask for insurance so we can find out if Medicaid can be billed for any services. School-Based Health Centers rely on Medicaid billing for funding. This allows them to keep caring for your child.

What if my child already has a doctor?

If your child already has a doctor, then the School Based Health Center staff will work along with the care that your child’s doctor provides. If needed, the School-Based Health Center staff will talk to your child’s doctor to make sure your child gets the best care both in and out of school.

My child is an undocumented immigrant. Can they still be seen at the School-Based Health Center?

Yes. Immigration status does not keep a student from access to care at the School-Based Health Center. The School-Based Health Center staff will not ask about your child’s status.

My child does not have a Social Security Number. Can they still be seen at the School-Based Health Center?

Yes. The health care providers at the School-Based Health Center might ask for your child’s Social Security Number to check if they have Medicaid. However, this is not needed to access care at the School-Based Health Center.

Can my child go to a School-Based Health Center at another school?

In most cases, no. School-Based Health Centers are not allowed to provide care to anyone that is not registered at that school. Sometimes the agency that sponsors the School-Based Health Center can direct family members to their central location or other clinics for care. Some School Based Health Centers also function as Community Health Centers. Those School-Based Health Centers can see children who are not registered at the school.

If you have any questions, please contact Lorraine Tiezzi, Director of Adolescent Health at