Wilmington, Delaware’s Kuumba Academy looks a little different these days. On Friday, May 6, also known as Better World Day in educational circles, the kindergarten through 8th grade charter school celebrated the opening of a new school-based health center. The goal of the ChristianaCare backed initiative: to address health issues at the earliest and most preventable stages, provide whole child health and advance health equity in this predominantly Black community.

In a study released last year by the Children’s Defense Fund, researchers found that in 2018, 1 in 18 children under age 19 were uninsured accounting for nearly 4.3 million young people. School-aged children (ages 6-17) represented more than 3 million of the nearly 4.3 million uninsured children in 2018. Even more children—roughly 20 million—lack sufficient access to essential health care. And further studies show that differences in access to medical care and treatment contribute to conditions that disproportionately hurt minority children.

ChristianaCare is a regional care system comprised of a network of private, non-profit hospitals that provide health care services to the entire state of Delaware and portions of seven counties bordering the state in Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey. With the opening of the Kuumba Academy health center, ChristianaCare now operates 21 school-based health centers throughout President Biden’s home state.

“At ChristianaCare, we recognize the comprehensive health needs of adolescents in our community and are committed to partnering and using our resources wisely and effectively to expand our school-based health centers,” said Bettina Tweardy Riveros, J.D., chief health equity officer and senior vice president of Government Affairs and Community Engagement at ChristianaCare. “We know that childhood trauma adversely affects the ability of children to learn and build healthy relationships and it increases their risk of mental health issues and lifelong chronic disease.” 

The opening of the school-based health center at Kuumba Academy makes it possible for ChristianaCare in partnership with Community Education Building (CEB) to support medical and behavioral health services and wraparound social care. Riveros says that translates to changing the student’s lives by positively influencing their health, their education and their futures. Not only will pupils receive on-site medical assistance, the Kuumba Academy students will also have access to comprehensive behavioral health services, crisis intervention and suicide prevention, substance use disorder treatment, tobacco cessation, and nutrition and weight management.

“The opening of this school-based health center means that our students and families will have daily access to the high-quality behavior and health services that they deserve, and we are grateful to ChristianaCare and CEB for their partnership,” says Sally Maldonado, head of school at Kuumba Academy, the mission of which is to provide an innovative learning environment for the whole child from kindergarten through eighth grade. “We are beginning to see ourselves on the other side of this pandemic and we are energized to emerge with these newfound partnerships focused on health and wellness for our village.”