School-Based Health Alliance Urges Trump Administration to End Policy of Separating Families at U.S. Border

Over the past several months, the federal government has forcibly separated thousands of young children from their parents and adult caregivers at the US-Mexico border as part of the Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy. This includes families who legally present themselves at an official border crossing to seek asylum in the U.S.  President Trump asserts repeatedly that he is not responsible for this policy and is unable to fix it, citing a law passed by Congressional Democrats. The news media and policy experts have refuted both claims. What is true is that this Administration is using children as leverage to advance its immigration agenda.

Separating children from their adult caregivers as a government policy is cruel, inhumane and immoral. It is also reckless and disastrous policy for children’s mental health and well-being.

Dr. Colleen Kraft, pediatrician and President of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), recently visited a detention center in Texas that houses migrant children separated from their parents. She noted that while basic needs such as food, shelter, and diaper changes were being met, workers at the center were instructed not to pick up or touch the children.

Imagine you are a young child who has recently made the arduous and uncertain journey from your home country to the U.S. border, likely fleeing due to traumatic conditions and violence, only to be forcibly separated from the only sense of comfort and security you know. You are in a foreign place, you don’t speak the language, you don’t know if you will ever see your parents again and there is no adult who is allowed to physically comfort you.

We don’t have to imagine what the lifelong impact of this kind of trauma might be: public health research tells us. The prolonged stress of being held in detention without the protective buffering of a parent or caring adult relationship can lead to a toxic stress response in children. Toxic stress disrupts brain and organ development, significantly increasing the risk for physical and behavioral health problems into adulthood, including heart disease, diabetes, substance abuse, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. And then there are the long term impacts that are less measurable: a child’s sense of justice, of right and wrong, and their ability to trust.

Immigration policy is complicated. Meeting the basic mental health needs of children is not. It is unspeakably cruel to sacrifice the latter as a political strategy to advance the former.”


The School-Based Health Alliance stands with our national partners, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Public Health Association, the American Psychological Association and others in aggressively opposing the separation of families at the border. We urge the Trump Administration to end this unnecessary and harmful policy.

For more information, please contact Senior Policy and Program Manager Suzanne Mackey

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February is School Based Health Care Awareness Month

February is National School Based Health Care Awareness Month!

MASBHC wants you to help us spread the word

Tweet/Post about SBHC Awareness month during the month of Feburary, using the hashtag #SBHCmonth18 and tagging MASBHC (Twitter or Facebook).

The Top two organizations that tweet/post the most will win the following prizes:

For ideas on posts and other ways to get involved in SBHC Awareness Month visit the School Based Health Alliance’s.

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Summit Hall: Collaborative Care for Student Success

Aurora* was 10 years old when she first arrived from Guatemala to Summit Hall Elementary in Gaithersburg, Maryland. In November 2016, Aurora was enrolled in one of Summit Hall’s fourth grade classes. Upon her enrollment, she and her mom were escorted by the main office staff to the SBHC were they could assist her and her family with both their health and social needs, including the fact that they did not have any health insurance.

During her first visit to the SBHC at Summit Hall, Aurora’s mom expressed concerns of a history of hearing problems that Aurora had experienced up until then. Immediately the health staff in the SBHC tested her hearing to get a baseline of her hearing loss and scheduled a well-child check for the next week. The Linkages to Learning caseworker assigned to Aurora and her family, assisted Aurora’s mom with applying for the Montgomery County Care for Kids program and eventually applying for Medicaid.

After determining the severity of Aurora’s hearing loss, the SBHC RN met with Montgomery County Public School (MCPS) staff that specializes in assisting students who are deaf or hard of hearing to determine their next steps. It was determined that Aurora needed to be evaluated by an Audiology Specialist and an ENT immediately, and thus could not wait for either the Montgomery County Care for Kids and/or Medicaid to be approved. Having the best interest of the student in mind, MCPS paid for the student to be evaluated by both an Audiologist and an ENT specialist.

As a result of this swift action, Aurora was given loaner hearing aids and is now enrolled in a school specifically for students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Even though she is no longer at Summit Hall, Aurora is enrolled in Montgomery County Care for Kids and receives her medical care at Summit Hall’s SBHC.

In addition to help with Aurora’s medical care, the caseworker also assisted Aurora’s mom with employment and housing. Aurora’s mom now has a stable job and home.

If not for the collaborative efforts of the SBHC and MCPS staff to see that Aurora’s health needs were met, she would not be in the classroom that fits her needs today. In addition, to making Aurora’s medical care a priority, they also made it their priority to ensure that Aurora had a stable home life, by helping her mother. Kudos to the Summit Hall Elementary SBHC on this amazing success story!

*Name has been changed to protect the privacy of the student

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