Fact sheet: School-based health and medical-legal partnerships

Monday, August 6, 2018

By National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership & School-Based Health Alliance

Integrating health services into a school-based setting ensures more equitable access to health care for children and adolescents. Yet social inequities—related to family, housing, income, and education—can negatively affect their performance in school as well as their health. School-based health center (SBHC) staff are increasingly working to identify and address these social determinants of health (SDOH). Many barriers to adequate and equitable child health are rooted in structural problems that health care alone cannot solve. To truly meet the complex needs of these young patients, health care teams benefit from legal expertise to help navigate problems that go well beyond the clinic’s door. School-based health centers with medical-legal partnerships (MLPs) provide patients with legal services to deal with issues that directly affect their health, further increasing the efficacy of health interventions.

This fact sheet describes common social and legal needs that affect the health of youth, and ways integrated legal services can help meet those needs. It examines medical-legal partnership programs at two school-based health centers and how they operate, and it shares stories of students benefiting from medical-legal partnership services.