Public Meetings On School Health Professionals

The DC Department of Behavioral Health and Department of Health are holding several public meetings this month on proposed new staffing of school health professionals starting next school year (SY 17-18).

The meetings are as follows, starting tomorrow:

Thursday, June 8, 6 pm, Shaw Library, WTD Meeting Room, 1630 7th St. NW
Wednesday, June 14, 6 pm, Deal Middle School, 3815 Fort Dr. NW
Thursday, June 29, 6 pm, Anacostia Library, Ora Glover Community Room, 1800 Good Hope Rd SE

The proposed staffing models are along the lines of what the agencies previously proposed: a relatively small corps of behavioral health professionals deployed to all schools, and school nurse coverage determined by need.

While this sounds fine in theory, in reality it could result in widespread rationing of school health professionals.

For instance, an explanatory flyer notes that school mental health providers will be supplemented with community-based organizations–with no mention that such supplementation is needed because of the lack of the previously provided clinic-based approach, which was effective.

The flyer also notes that school nurse staffing will be “flexible,” changing according to the health needs of the student body at each school as well as the availability of nurses, with nurses first “deployed to schools with students who have daily or acute needs, such as those who require insulin or may require seizure medication and students who receive a treatment such as a tube feeding.” Currently proposed staffing shows many schools lacking a full-time nurse.

Weigh in about all of this at one of the public meetings–and, if schools without full-time nurses worry you, join a few thousand others and sign this petition.

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