Why Stamford is adding school-based onsite healthcare

September 27, 2022 : Stamford Public Schools have incorporated behavioral health services to three more elementary schools, getting the percentage of primary schools to deliver such in-house clinical support to more than half.

In her weekly note to the community, Stamford superintendent Tamu Lucero expressed Newfield Elementary School, Strawberry Hill School, and Toquam Magnet Elementary School, will have behavioral healthcare services via medical provider Community Health Centers.

“The behavioral health services include individual counseling, group counseling, family counseling, and crisis intervention,” she penned in her message. Lucero also contained the Anchor program in the list of schools to get the assistance through CHC, however Jane Hylan, the director of school-based health service for the association, said that’s still tentative.

Hylan expressed Anchor, which caters to struggling middle and high school students, was set to have behavioral health care along with medical and dental services incorporated for the site. But school district administrators determined to add in-house behavioral health services, Hylan articulated, with the idea that CHC could be called upon if additional support is required.

The behavioral services are not yet up and working at either of the three schools, Hylan expressed. She said the biggest challenge is hiring staff, as there is a lack of clinicians.

“And I think it’s just about the environment we’re in,” she said, referring to the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We used to have this outstanding candidate list.”

Hylan has been associated with CHC for about 20 years, describing the mental health crisis as unlike anything she’s come across.

“None of us have witnessed the demand the way it is today,” she said.

Hylan voiced that CHC’s school-based services are self-sustained by the revenue caused by insurance claims. She said her office would work with uninsured families to guide the insurance world.

Community Health Center already delivers behavioral health support in many Stamford schools, especially Roxbury, Northeast, Springdale, Stark, and Hart elementary schools. A behavioral health clinician is housed at each.

Adding Strawberry Hill, Toquam and Newfield mean only four of Stamford’s elementary schools will be sans a dedicated behavioral clinician: Davenport Ridge, Stillmeadow, K.T. Murphy, and Westover elementary schools.

Stillmeadow, however, does have a social worker working with the healthcare provider Family Centers, which mainly functions school-based health centers in Stamford’s middle and high schools. School-based health centers, or SBHCs, are centers inside schools that offer students mental and physical care services at no cost.

Early this year, the state Department of Public Health released a report listing 157 educational institutions in Connecticut deemed most in demand of mental health support for students.

Eight Stamford schools made a list: Davenport Ridge, Northeast, Westover, Hart, and Newfield elementary schools; Scofield Magnet Middle School, Rogers International School, and the Academy of Information Technology and Engineering.

According to the report, those schools could aid from more robust mental health care services.