Philadelphia, PA- U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), joined by a local emergency room doctor and nurse, and an advocate for nurses in schools and author of a key study on nursing shortages in Philadelphia schools pushed for passage of a plan that could lead to more nurses schools in Philadelphia and across the country. Casey pushed for passage of a plan that could help schools pay for nurses to aid children during health emergencies. The Casey-backed plan, the NURSE Act, would create a new grant program that schools in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania could apply for.
“It’s critical that children in our schools have access to care, especially during a health emergency,” Senator Casey said. “The NURSE Act is a starting point that could lead to more children accessing this vital care. School districts in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania are dealing with challenging budgets. This legislation has the potential to create a partnership between the federal government and local school districts to put more nurses in schools.”
The NURSE Act, would authorize the creation of a competitive demonstration grant program through the U.S. Department of Education for eligible LEA’s to improve the ratio of students to school nurses. The grant would share costs between the federal government and state and local entities. High need LEAs would be given priority in the grant process. This bill also would require the Department of Education to report to Congress on the efficacy of the pilot program – specifically looking at the relationship between access to student health services and academic outcomes.
This bill is critical because students at more than half of all public schools have no regular access to a school nurse. Nurses provide critical support like early intervention screenings, mental health supports, manage chronic conditions – like diabetes, obesity, and asthma, care for students with disabilities, connect children and families with health providers, track and prevent the spread of communicable disease, and handle medical emergencies.
School districts across the state where the ratio of nurses to students is greater than 1 nurse per 750 students would be eligible to apply for grants. High need districts, like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, would receive preference in the process. Casey was joined by Cheryl Peiffer - President, PA Association of School Nurses, Maura McInerney - Education Law Center of Philadelphia and Dr. Ashlee Lynn Murray – Pediatric Emergency Physician, CHOP in making the case for the bill.