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Promise Healthcare receives a state grant to establish a school-based health center in Champaign

Promise Healthcare operates school-based health centers in Urbana and Rantoul — and just received a grant to fund planning for a new center in Champaign.

Promise Healthcare and the Champaign Unit 4 School District received a grant to fund planning activities for a new school-based health center. 

The $50,000 grant was awarded by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Promise Healthcare is a federally qualified health center that provides medical, behavioral and dental services for people in Champaign-Urbana and surrounding communities. 

Lisa Kilawee, vice president of strategy and development for Promise Healthcare, said conversations with the school district started about four months ago. The district wanted to find a way to make medical services more accessible for students and their families, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“All of the school districts have to work with a lot of kids and families who may have developed a lot of challenges during the pandemic,” Kilawee said. “Maybe they didn’t have great access to primary health care services or behavioral health and now there’s all this unmet need.”

After the initial conversations between both parties, she said they took the opportunity to apply for a grant to help fund the project. 

Kilawee said the grant will help hire people with skills essential to the center’s development. 

“The grant will provide us with some funding to hire a consultant and facilitator, possibly to help gather community input from the school district and the community. It will help better hone in on the needs for the school-based health center,” she said.

Promise Healthcare operates school-based health centers in Urbana and Rantoul. Kilawee said those centers also provide counseling and psychiatric services. She said planning committees are looking at the successful aspects of those locations as they plan for the new center in Champaign. 

While the location for the new health center has not been decided yet, Kilawee said school-based health centers are usually on or near a school campus because that makes it easier for parents.

“Especially in a community like Champaign-Urbana and Rantoul, maybe the parents are working elsewhere and commuting out. So you have to take a whole day of work or half a day, you know, to get your kids the needed services,” she said.

Champaign Unit 4 Schools Superintendent Dr. Sheila Boozer is excited about partnering with Promise Healthcare to create the new health center, according to a press release

She said better access to medical services will help students prevent and treat mild illnesses, which will help ensure they miss fewer school days. 

Planning for the health center is set to be completed by the end of the year, Kilawee said.

Picture of Stephanie Mosqueda

Stephanie Mosqueda

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