Editor:

We, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Health and Safety District Advisory Committee, strongly support funding for the Venice Family Clinic (VFC) as the lead agency of a health and wellness center at Santa Monica High School.

Creating a health and wellness center on Samohi’s campus is consistent with a growing, successful model of student healthcare that’s taking place at high schools throughout California. In fact, LAUSD already has 14 such centers, and there is one nearby at Culver City High School. These centers of coordinated care increase student access to vital health and mental health services, as well as promote an overall culture of student wellness.

Here in Santa Monica, we currently fund a few nonprofit providers to deliver mental health and substance-abuse services at our two high schools (Family Service of Santa Monica, St. John’s Child and Family Development Center, and Clare Foundation). At the new Samohi wellness center, these providers would continue to provide services for our students at a centralized, recognized center that students can identify with. Additionally, these providers will be augmented by VFC acting in a lead and coordinating capacity.

VFC is a federally qualified health care center, and thus can bill insurance companies to help underwrite the cost of these services. In addition, VFC will provide oversight of coordination between these nonprofit partners, as well as school district personnel like school principals, psychologists, nursing staff, counselors and advisors.

This center will sit at the cutting edge of wraparound wellness services for students to improve overall wellbeing, which we know can lead to improved academic performance. This model of intense coordination that would exist at the centralized wellness center is at the heart of our city’s Cradle to Career initiative.

We strongly support our City of Santa Monica’s staff budget recommendation to continue funding the current nonprofit providers that provide health and mental health services at our high school, as well as the recommendation to fund VFC as a coordinating agency for the new health and wellness center at Samohi.

Sion Roy, M.D.
SMMUSD Health and Safety DAC

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