SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – For years, New Mexico has been using school-based health centers to provide care to students. Now, lawmakers are looking to ensure those health centers keep providing care into the future.

Senate Bill 397 would make school-based health centers a legal requirement within certain communities. In effect, this would make it harder for future policymakers to simply remove school-based healthcare from New Mexico’s schools.

School-based health centers help treat student injuries, provide substance abuse care, and help with crisis intervention in schools, according to the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH). Currently, there are more than 50 school-based health centers around the state.

“We are thrilled school-based health centers are on track to be codified in law,” NMDOH Cabinet Secretary Patrick M. Allen said in a press release. “Providing healthcare services to the children of New Mexico is a high priority for NMDOH and because these centers are based in schools, it means more children have access to the primary care and mental health services they need.” 

The bill protecting school-based health centers has passed the Legislature. Now, it’s headed to the Governor’s desk for final approval. She has until April 7 to enact or veto the bill.