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The Health Center Program: Special Populations

Health Centers are community-based and patient-driven organizations that serve populations with limited access to health care.  These include low income populations, the uninsured, those with limited English proficiency. 

Some Health Centers also receive specific funding to focus on certain special populations:

  • migrant and seasonal farmworkers
  • individuals and families experiencing homelessness
  • those living in public housing
  • Native Hawaiians

In 2006 Health Centers served over 807,000 migrant and seasonal Farmworkers and their families, nearly 829,000 individuals experiencing homelessness and over 129,000 residents of public housing.

Migrant Health Centers

In 2006, HRSA-funded health centers served more than 807,000 migrant or seasonal farmworkers and their families. It is estimated that HRSA-funded health center programs serve more than one quarter of all migrant and seasonal farmworkers in the United States.

The Migrant Health Center program provides support to health centers to deliver comprehensive, high quality, culturally-competent preventive and primary health services to migrant and seasonal farmworkers and their families with a particular focus on the occupational health and safety needs of this population. Principal employment for both migrant and seasonal farmworkers must be in agriculture.

The National Advisory Council on Migrant Health regularly advises, consults with, and makes recommendations to the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the HRSA Administrator on migrant health issues.

Health Care for the Homeless Program

Homelessness continues to be a pervasive problem throughout the U.S., affecting rural as well as urban and suburban communities. According to a recent national survey, it is estimated that 744,000 people are homeless on a given night and 2 to 3 million are homeless over the course of a year.

The Health Care for the Homeless Program is a major source of care for homeless persons in the United States, serving patients that live on the street, in shelters, or in transitional housing. In 2006, HRSA-funded health centers served nearly 829,000 persons experiencing homelessness.

Health Care for the Homeless grantees recognize the complex needs of homeless persons and strive to provide a coordinated, comprehensive approach to health care including substance abuse and mental health services.

Public Housing Primary Care Health Centers

The Public Housing Primary Care Program provides residents of public housing with increased access to comprehensive primary health care services through the direct provision of health promotion, disease prevention, and primary health care services. Services are provided on the premises of public housing developments or at other locations immediately accessible to residents. In 2006, HRSA-funded health centers served over 129,000 residents of public housing.

Native Hawaiians

The Native Hawaiian Health Care Program, funded within the health center appropriation, improves the health status of Native Hawaiians by making health education, health promotion, and disease prevention services available through the support of Native Hawaiian Health Care Systems.

Native Hawaiians face cultural, financial, social, and geographic barriers that prevent them from utilizing existing health services. In addition, health services are often unavailable in the community.

The Native Hawaiian Health Care Systems use a combination of outreach, referral, and linkage mechanisms to provide or arrange services. Services provided include nutrition programs, screening and control of hypertension and diabetes, immunizations, and basic primary care services. In 2006, Native Hawaiian Systems provided medical and enabling encounters to more than 6,163 people.

The Native Hawaiian Health Care Program also supports a health professions scholarship program for Native Hawaiians and administrative costs for Papa Ola Lokahi, an organization that coordinates and assists health care programs provided to Native Hawaiians.

In FY 2006, 11 Native Hawaiian scholarships were awarded. More than 170 Native Hawaiian scholarships have been awarded since the beginning of the program.

Requirements & Regulations Related Links

Authorizing Legislation (Section 330 of the Public Health Service Act)

Community Health Center Program Regulations

Migrant Health Program Regulations

National Advisory Council on Migrant Health

Grant Award Requirements

Program Information Notices & Program Assistance Letters

Preventive and Primary
Health Care Guidelines

Clinical Information

Preventive Services

Clinical Practice

CDC Catch-up Immunization Scheduler