Health Centers as Partners in Youth Violence Prevention
For more than 45 years, Health Resources and Services Administration supported health centers have delivered comprehensive, high-quality primary health care to patients regardless of their ability to pay. Health centers are community-based and patient-directed organizations that serve populations with limited access to health care, including low-income populations, uninsured, those with limited English proficiency, individuals and families experiencing homelessness, and those living in public housing[i].
Today, over 1,100 health centers operate approximately 8,500 service delivery sites that provide care to 20 million patients in every U.S. State, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Pacific Basin, giving geographically isolated or economically distressed people access to preventive and primary health care.
- Nearly two-thirds of health center patients are members of minority groups.
- Over ninety percent are low income, and nearly forty percent have no health insurance.
Health centers emphasize coordinated primary and preventive services or a “medical home” that promotes reductions in health disparities for low-income individuals, racial and ethnic minorities, rural communities and other underserved populations. Health centers place emphasis on the coordination and comprehensiveness of care, the ability to manage patients with multiple health care needs, and the use of key quality improvement practices, including health information technology.
Health centers can be partners in preventing youth violence in the following ways:
- Health centers provide comprehensive primary health care services to anyone regardless of their ability to pay, and enable health care access to those affected by youth violence.
- Health centers can screen for risk factors for youth violence. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, risk factors include, but are not limited to, drug, alcohol, or tobacco use, association with delinquent peers, poor family functioning, and poor grades in school.
- Health centers can partner with other health care and social service organizations and agencies to address the risk factors for youth violence. Activities may include enhanced communications regarding victims and those at risk, referral arrangements, and joint community-based activities.
- Health centers, especially with school-based sites, can provide on-site screening, treatment, and referral for those impacted by youth violence at schools.
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