Government and education officials announced the start of an effort to establish Wellbeing Centers on 50 high school campuses across the county to provide mental, sexual and other health related services to students.
The program includes a partnership with Planned Parenthood Los Angeles, which will initially provide "a full range of sexual health services one day a week" that include birth control at Esteban Torres High in East Los Angeles as well as at Bell, South East, South Gate and West Adams Preparatory high schools. The agency hopes to expand to all 50 schools on a rolling basis over the next two years.
The L.A. Times said the program will cost the county $12 million in its first year.
"Empowering our teenagers is a priority," County Supervisor Hilda Solis said. "We must support the well-being of our youth so they can thrive at school and view their futures with optimism and hope. Wellbeing Centers provide students a safe space to receive information and resources on substance use prevention, sexual health and mental health."
The centers being opened at 50 high schools will be staffed by two master's-level health educators who will organize classes and activities designed to provide students with information on substance abuse, sexual health, skills for maintaining healthy relationships and planning for the future.
County officials say research has shown that many county students lack preventative care at a time when they are at risk of taking up smoking or vaping or engaging in unsafe sex or alcohol use.
"Our schools desperately need on-site resources to promote student mental health and wellness so that teachers can teach and students can learn," County Superintendent of Schools Debra Duardo said. "The Wellbeing Centers provide this support by harnessing resources from across the county to benefit our students and staff. They exemplify the meaningful impact of multiple agencies coming together on behalf of kids and families."