Millions of dollars are coming to Valley schools to help cover healthcare costs.  

Several communities will benefit from Governor DeWine's Appalachian Children's Health Initiative, supporting school-based health clinics, the launch of healthcare-focused workforce development programs, and more.  

Akron Children's Hospital is also partnering with most Valley communities receiving funding. 21 News spoke with district leaders affected on how this will benefit students' well-being.

"Our vision for Ohio's future is one where all Ohioans, no matter where they are from, have the opportunity to live up to their full potential," said Governor DeWine. "These projects will uplift and empower the people of Ohio's Appalachian region for generations to come."

The dollars will be divided among 28 projects that will benefit 61,000 students and 375,000 residents across 20 Appalachian counties. Expanded services will include comprehensive primary care, dental, vision, and mental health services for children, families, and communities, according to a press release from the governor's office.

Campbell City School District is receiving the most from the state's Appalachian Children's Health Initiative, taking home $10,504,736 million out of the $64 million available.

All dollars go towards transforming children's healthcare in schools. Campbell will apply the funds towards its Health and Community Development Center, which works to provide on-site food pantries, pediatric primary care, mental health counseling, and more.

DeWine visited Campbell Friday to announce dozens of transformational projects that will significantly improve access to healthcare across many of Ohio's Appalachian communities. 

"It's an amazing opportunity for our children and they're the ones who matter most. I don't want to lose sight of that," said Matthew Bowen, Superintendent of Campbell City Schools. "What we are going here is not just specific to our 4 square miles. Everyone throughout the community can access a lot of the specialized programs and deliverables that our many partners offer."

Warren City Schools is getting over $318,360 to establish a school-based health center through a partnership with Akron Children's. 

"This money fortifies and solidifies the work that our Akron Children's partner is already doing with our kids here in the buildings," Chiaro said.

The district already had a nurse practitioner in the district but the funding will help expand healthcare access for district students.

Superintendent Steve Chiaro told 21 News a quarter of district students haven't had a well-visit in the last year. He explained signs like these point to why in-school healthcare is so essential.

"Last year alone, we had 900 cases of a chronic health condition that was treated through our partnership with Akron Children's Hospital here in the schools," Chiaro told 21 News. "So, it's a significant need. If our medical team sees a chronic health condition in a student, and if they don't have a family physician, that nurse will then offer the medical services of Akron Children's to try and get the healthcare needs for students. These are some of the barriers to learning that we're trying to combat."

Superintendent Chiaro said Akron Children's has provided in-school nursing services since 2016. During the 2022-2023 school year, 526 students were treated for asthma, 329 were treated for life-threatening allergies and 46 were treated for seizure disorders. In the 2021-2022 school year, 74% of the district's 4,744 students were enrolled in Medicaid. Of that percentage, only 46%  had a well-visit within the last year.  

The additional services will be offered to Warren students starting in the 2024-2025 school year.

"What this does is it will allow us to support telemedicine equipment and I believe some staff salaries for the providers and nurses in these schools," explained Paul Olivier, Vice President of Akron Children's Hospital to 21 News. "Students won't even have to leave their school to go to Boardman or Akron for medical care."

Olivier explained Akron Children's has had a successful in-school healthcare program in dozens of school districts for years.

"We're delighted the governor has made these funds available to help us propel the services we offer and take it to the next level," Olivier said.

Out of the 34 school districts affected, East Palestine School District was awarded $251,528 to improve its clinic, which is similar to Warren's.

Governor DeWine applying these dollars locally helps to reduce barriers to accessing essential health services while improving student's physical and mental health.

"By addressing the holistic health needs of students and families, this project exemplifies the transformative power of community-driven solutions," said Lydia Mihalik, Director of the Ohio Department of Development. "I commend the Appalachian Children Coalition and their partners for bringing together diverse stakeholders to create a healthier future for Appalachian Ohio."

A total of $238,668 will go toward similar projects in Bristol, Crestview, Mahoning Valley, Newton Falls, and Sebring school districts. Akron Children's partners with all of those districts.

Visit Governor DeWine's website to learn more about the funds announced on Friday.