Press Release

With Asthma Affecting Over 19 Thousand Westchester Children, Senator Gillibrand And Congresswoman Lowey Announces Federal Funding For Schools To Implement Asthma Management Plans

Jan 11, 2016

Port Chester, NY – With asthma affecting approximately 364,000 children in New York State, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congresswoman Lowey, joined by Westchester parents, school officials and medical professionals today announced that $1.65 billion in federal aid is now available for school districts to develop policies and procedures and implement training to respond to and help prevent students’ asthma attacks as well as other local priorities for schools throughout the country, including approximately $125 million for New York schools. The funding is part of Senator Gillibrand’s School Asthma Management Plan Act and was included in the national education bill recently passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama.

According to the New York State Department of Health over 19,000 Westchester children suffer from asthma. Over 400 were hospitalized overnight for their asthma in 2014.

The Port Chester School District has a federally funded agreement with Open Door Family Medical Centers for the provision of school based health services.  Their asthma management plan, developed with the American Lung Association’s Hudson Valley Asthma Coalition has yielded significant improvements in student attendance rates and acute care incidents. 

“With so many children in New York hospitalized every year for asthma attacks, I’m pleased to announce that our local school districts now have access to this federal grant funding to develop, implement, and evaluate school asthma management plans.” said Senator Gillibrand, “With nearly 1 in 11 children in our state and  in 12 children across the country now suffering from asthma, we have to make sure our schools have the resources to prepare for and prevent asthma attacks. Over a quarter of a million New York children have this chronic disease, so the place where they spend so much of their time – our schools – must be ready and this funding will help make sure schools have the resources to meet our students’ needs.”

“It is critical that we provide schools with the resources to respond to a child’s asthma episode,” said Congresswoman Lowey. “Asthma is the leading chronic disease among children, and can lead to adverse consequences beyond health, such as missed class time and school days. I’m glad portions of Senator Gillibrand’s School Asthma Management Plan Act were signed into law and will allow states and school districts to bolster their asthma treatment plans. As Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee, I will continue fighting for increased federal investments that help overcome debilitating diseases like asthma and improve quality of life here in the Lower Hudson Valley and throughout New York.”

“We are very pleased with the new funding to be available for asthma treatment for children, said Edward A. Kliszus, Ph.D., Superintendent of Schools, Port Chester-Rye Union Free School District. “Effectively managing student health has helped our students dramatically in improving their school attendance and achievement. Working with Open Door medical centers, we have been able to mitigate a significant barrier to student success. Wraparound services that include medical support are key to a true community school model that we have adopted here in Port Chester.”

“Pediatric asthma in the United States has reached epidemic levels.  With the condition so common and with children spending most of their days in class, it is inevitable that schools will be challenged with the initial care of a child in asthma distress,” explained Allen Dozor, M.D., Chief of Pediatric Pulmonology, Allergy and Sleep Medicine and director of the American Lung Association-supported Asthma Clinical Research Center at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, a member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network. “Support of this kind will supply our local schools with the education and equipment necessary to prevent asthma episodes and outline a path for care, if necessary.”

“Every child deserves the chance to be successful,” said Lindsay Farrell, MBA, FACMPE, President and CEO of Open Door Family Medical Centers. “Teaching students how to better control their asthma and incorporating asthma education into district policy impacts children with asthma as well as the health and success of every student in the building. Public health professionals like Open Door and school systems like Port Chester have demonstrated that by working together missed school days decrease, students have more time in class and as a result, families and the larger community are strengthened.”

“The American Lung Association commends Senator Gillibrand for her continued leadership and advocacy on behalf of children with asthma in New York and across the country,” said Michael Seilback, Vice President, Public Policy & Communications of the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “Because of Senator Gillibrand, school districts can now use federal funding to develop and implement school asthma management plans to keep students with asthma safe.”

The national education bill, the Every Student Succeeds Act, authorized funding for the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant program at $1.65 billion in Fiscal Year 2017 and $1.60 billion in each of Fiscal Years 2018 through 2020. All states and most school districts in the country will be eligible to receive grant funding through this program and will be able to target funds to meet their unique needs. The proportion of funding allocated to individual school districts will vary based on school districts’ share of low-income students.

Senator Gillibrand pushed for language to specifically allow school districts to use federal block grant funding under the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant program of the Every Student Succeeds Act to develop, implement, and evaluate school asthma management plans.

Senator Gillibrand pushed for the inclusion of this provision based on her School Asthma Management Plan Act, legislation to ensure schools are equipped to respond to asthma attacks and are working to help prevent them from happening.

Senator Gillibrand has also pushed to incorporate student health measures into major legislation before Congress this year. As a part of the Child Nutrition Reauthorization, Gillibrand is fighting to protect fruit and vegetable serving standards to ensure school meals are nutritious. She was also successful in adding a provision to the national education bill based on her FIT Kids Act to help schools expand and improve physical fitness and education programs.