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Courtney: School-Based Health Clinics are as Important as Infrastructure When it Comes to Safety

He said it will be a hot post-Newtown topic in Washington.

U.S. Rep. Joseph Courtney was intrigued by the question.

Is the school safety debate all about infrastructure or does it run deeper?

He hesitated.

Then the 2nd District Democrat from Vernon became animated.

"Some do not think the federal government should be involved in the schools at all," Courtney said. "But I wrote to Rep. John Kline (the Minnesota Republican who chairs the Education and the Workforce Committee). He has a tough caucus, but in my letter I mentioned that the incident in Connecticut has obviously heightened parents' and educators' concerns about whether the schools need more help."

The result?

"It took a while, but his staff said he would make a commitment for committee hearings," Courtney said.

Courtney is serving as the top Democrat on the Education and Workforce Committee’s Workforce Protections Subcommittee.

He said it is still unclear what direction Kline might take the committee in terms of federal assistance for school security infrastructure projects.

One direction in which the Democrats want to move points toward school-based health clinics. He toured the Jennings School in New London this week to promote the concept and is following a decision in Vernon to put together a request for proposal to set one up. 

"School-based health clinics are helpful," he said. "They are pretty solid programs that involve school psychology, counseling, and those types of services."

Courtney continued, "It is as important as infrastructure. It can target young people. a group that has a pretty high concentration of illness. School-based health centers have staff, but you canals also refer students to adolescent psychiatrists in more complex cases."

The premise, Courtney said, is to help with, "Identifying kids who are struggling."

He paused.

"Who are … ill."

Courtney said even the National Rifle Association is behind the concept of mental health services.

Courtney said it was still early to tell what type of funding might be available for school-based health clinics. 

"But this is a real opportunity to get people working together," Courtney said.

Max February 03, 2013 at 05:17 PM
To solve what problem? Here's how this kind of knee jerk program works: we put in place an infrastructure of social services which creates jobs and institutionalizes the problem it is trying to "solve". It becomes a self-justifying agency demanding funding all the while detaching the community and parents who are the primary source of support for these young folks. Representative Courtney knows best. He has surveyed, and it seems so good, with Sandy Hook and all, it's time to create a legacy on the basis of a brand new drive to solve a problem that is vague at best. Next to military spending, social services of one form or another is the biggest percentage of US GDP. And yet our culture remains deeply wanting, and dysfunctional in spite of these legislative "solutions".

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