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HRSA Awards Grant to MARC Head Start, Swope Health Services, Excelsior Springs School District

MARC Head Start, Swope Health Services and the Excelsior Springs School District were awarded $11,100 in Phase 1 of the Building Bridges to Better Health: A Primary Health Care Challenge.

The challenge is a national competition through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to spark innovation that will improve patient access to primary care. The total awarded in Phase 1 was $300,000 to 27 projects across the country. The winners will move on to Phase 2 to develop and test their proposed solution.

“Prior to 2021, MARC Head Start has seen a 25% decrease in physicals and 13% decrease in immunizations,” said Jovanna Rohs, director of MARC’s Early Learning Department. “Lack of pediatric options, locations of clinics and transportation are all contributing factors to this gap. Together, we are proactively addressing these barriers by delivering preventative and interventional health care services for children attending MARC Head Start.”

Based upon the success of mobile medical and dental units deployed to the district’s Early Childhood Center during the recent HRSA P4 challenge, the initial target population for this challenge are young children and their families in the city of Excelsior Springs in Clay County, Missouri. Clay County has 242,516 residents, 24.3% are under age 18 and 6.5% are under age 5. Of the families with children younger than five, 12.6% live in poverty.

A recent community health needs assessment from Children’s Mercy Kansas City found that 18.1% of respondents in Clay County had experienced three or more adverse childhood experiences and that 24.7% of respondents moved residences at least once in the past year. These are factors that can lead to challenges for kids and families in accessing health care.

The Excelsior Springs School District’s Early Childhood Center became a MARC Head Start partner during the 2018-2019 school year. Through 2022, less than 80% of children enrolled in Head Start had a medical and/or dental home. Between the introduction of a full-time school nurse and the deployment of mobile medical and dental units, the percent of MARC Head Start students with a medical/dental home increased to 92% and 50% for half-day students. In the last school year, compliance increased to 100% for MARC Head Start students and 95% for half-day students.