Sexual Health Services in Schools: A Successful Community Collaborative

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School-based health centers (SBHCs) are an essential part of a comprehensive approach to address the health needs of youth. SBHCs that provide sexual health services (SHS) show promising results in improving reproductive health outcomes among youth. Despite the positive impact SBHCs can have, few school districts have SBHCs, and even fewer provide SHS. This article describes a successful 5-year project to provide SHS through SBHCs in a large county in the southeast United States. A community collaborative, including the schools, health department, community agencies and a local university, was created to address the project goals and objectives. Various steps were taken to plan for the SBHCs, including documenting community support for SHS offered through SBHCs, identifying school sites for SBHCs, and the process for offering pregnancy, STD (sexually transmitted disease), and HIV testing, treatment, and referrals. Protocols for clinic flow, testing, staffing, training, and student recruitment were developed. The staff at the SBHCs were successful in recruiting students to attend educational sessions and to receive testing and treatment. Student feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Lessons learned about the importance of the partnership’s collaboration, using recommended clinic protocol, ensuring clear communication with school staff, and employing youth friendly recruitment and clinic practices are shared.

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