The Center for Health and Health Care in Schools (CHHCS), a nonpartisan policy and program resource center located at The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, commissioned Lake Snell Perry & Associates (LSPA) to conduct a national poll to explore parents’ opinions about health and health care in schools. This national survey of 1,101 parents of school-aged children, conducted February 25 through March 10, 2003, finds that American parents – regardless of income, race or political affiliation – support health and health care in schools.

  • Parents are strong supporters of in-school health care. Over eight in ten say they support providing health care in schools, including over half who strongly favor providing such services. Democrats, Republicans and Independents all support health care in schools.
  • Parents feel health care in schools can meet many needs, from providing immediate care in case of accident or illness and caring for children with chronic illnesses, to providing mental health counseling and educating students about health issues like eating right and exercising and the dangers of drugs and alcohol.
  • For many parents providing health care in schools is important not just for their own children but for uninsured children and those children whose parents may not be able to get care for them elsewhere.

These and other survey results can be found in detail below:

Parents Are Strongly in Favor of Health Care in Schools.

Over eight in ten (83%) say they support health care in schools, including over half (56%) who are strong supporters. Only one in ten (11%) oppose it. (Figure One)

Health care in schools is not a partisan issue. Though Democrats are the most enthusiastic (90% support), Independents (83%) and Republicans (72%) are also strong supporters.

Support for health care in schools exists across demographic groups. What differences there are on the issue are differences of degree rather than direction. For example, large majorities of parents in households with incomes under (91%) and over (79%) $37,000 a year1 support providing health care in schools. African-American (91%), Hispanic (88%) and White (81%) parents all support health care in schools.

Parents See Many Advantages to Providing Health Care in Schools.

Arguments in favor of health care in schools resonate with parents. (Figure Two) Health education is one area about which parents feel strongly. Almost nine in ten (88%) find the argument that “teaching kids about how to keep themselves healthy is as important as teaching them about reading, writing and math” convincing, including six in ten (59%) who find it very convincing. Parents are also swayed by the argument that care in school will help keep kids healthy (80%) and will help parents get care for their children without having to miss work (70%).

Parents also have altruistic motives for supporting school-based health care. Eight in ten parents (81%) are convinced by the argument that school may be the only source of care for America’s uninsured children. Almost six in ten (56%) find it very convincing. Parents whose children are insured (82%) are as moved by this argument as those whose children do not have coverage (82%). This argument resonates with Democrats (88%), Independents (83%) and Republicans (76%).

Arguments against health care in schools do not resonate as strongly with parents as those in favor. The only argument against health care in schools that a majority find convincing is a financial one. Just over half the parents surveyed (56%) agree that “money for education is limited and health care would take money away from more important priorities.” However, less than one in four (23%) find this very convincing and over four in ten (43%) consider this argument not too convincing (21%) or not convincing at all (22%). Half (49%) are convinced by the notion that “the people caring for these kids may not share their parents’ values and ideas,” and half (50%) are not. Under half say they may be swayed by arguments about a lack of full parental knowledge and consent (45%) and poor quality of care (43%).

Parents Feel Children in School Should Benefit from a Broad Range of Services.

Parents feel health care in schools can meet many needs. (Figure Three) Some of the most important are traditional in-school health services such as providing care in case of injuries (96% say important), caring for children with chronic illnesses (90%), and administering medications (85%). Mental health counseling from qualified professionals is also important to a large majority of parents (86%).

Parents also feel health education services are also important, echoing their feeling that teaching kids how to stay healthy is vital. Almost all parents feel drug and alcohol education and prevention is important (96%) as is educating students about health issues like eating right and exercising (96%) and helping them with obesity or other eating problems (85%). Indeed, in another question over eight in ten (85%) parents support having program in schools to help fight the nation’s childhood obesity epidemic.

Echoing their altruistic motives for supporting health care in schools, an eight-in-ten majority of parents (82%) feel it is important to have a doctor or nurse practitioner in school for basic care for children whose parents can not afford health care. Though Democrats are most likely to feel this is important (91%), large majorities of Independents (82% ) and Republicans (76%) feel this is an important service.
Report produced by Lake Snell Perry & Associates for The Center for Health and Health Care in Schools.