If not us, then who?
When we deny children the access to healthcare, we do society a disservice because we limit our future generations from reaching their maximum potential. As advocates for children’s health, it is necessary to support school based health centers (SBHCs). School based health care is a creative solution that reduces healthcare access barriers, allowing crucial services at arms reach, where children spend the most amount of time. As a population health advocacy fellow from UCLA interning at the L.A. Trust, my work has focused on improving the process by which students are able to access SBHCs. I am working towards the standardization of parental consent forms for SBHCs and the creation of a protocol that helps facilitate the process of releasing students for sensitive services. Students have the legal right to consent for sensitive services without parental consent; their confidentiality is also subject to legal protection. These forms are crucial in enhancing transparency among students, parents, and school personnel to avoid miscommunication regarding the services offered at SBHCs. The implementation of these documents would help ensure that minor consent rights and confidentiality laws are upheld in practice. As history has shown, just because a law is in place does not mean it is always enforced in practice. When it comes to sensitive services, student’s confidentiality should be protected and schools should feel confident in guiding and empowering students to make informed decisions. Streamlining this process can result in the benefit for all stakeholders.
The L.A. Trust works closely with LAUSD to support the academic success of over 640,000 students across Los Angeles. One aspect I will take away from my experience as an intern is the multidisciplinary and collaborative nature of the L.A. Trust team. Most importantly, these triumphs are possible only through collaborations with LAUSD personnel, clinic managers, students, interns, and community members. I was once a LAUSD student. I did not realize it then, but thousands of people were working day to day to improve the conditions of the school I attended. I am grateful to now be one of those advocates that works to improve the conditions for other students. If not us, who will advocate for the health and wellbeing of children?
Marisol Frausto will be finishing her last year as an MPH student at UCLA. To learn more about Marisol, click here!