Being Dedicated to Meeting the Needs of the Whole Child
By: Brittany Miracle
You may not realize it, but there have been some changes at the Department of Education. Recently, I joined the ExtraCredit blogging team, and the Department created a new office. In my first official blog, I am honored to introduce you to the Office of Integrated Student Supports!
The Department created this office in direct response to feedback from you — Ohio’s stakeholders and our students’ biggest advocates! More than 1,200 stakeholders — including parents, caregivers, preK-12 educators, higher education representatives, business leaders, employers, community members, state legislators and students — put their heads together to develop Ohio’s Strategic Plan for Education, Each Child, Our Future. You requested more non-academic supports to address the needs of the whole child, and the Department listened!
Each Child, Our Future places the whole child at the center of the Department’s work to support and improve student outcomes. Meeting the needs of the whole child means each child’s basic needs are met to allow for optimal conditions for learning.
For all of Ohio’s students to be challenged, prepared and empowered, we must support districts in getting students to school healthy, engaged and safe every day. Each child, regardless of demographics, must have access to supports to meet his or her intellectual, physical, emotional and social needs. The Office of Integrated Student Supports is well-equipped to support schools and districts in meeting the needs of each child.
Here are some important things to know about the work of our office:
- The office dedicates staff to ensure the educational stability of Ohio’s homeless youth, students in foster care, English learners and justice-involved youth. These vulnerable populations may face significant barriers to education, such as high mobility rates, trauma, and undiagnosed mental and physical health needs, and we are here to help. The office works to increase student attendance. Students who do not attend school regularly are less likely to read on grade level and graduate on time. You can find ideas, tips and resources to encourage regular attendance on the Department’s website.
- We helped form Ohio’s School-based Health Care network. The network comprises 18 schools and districts partnering with health care providers to meet students’ physical, mental and behavioral health needs. Schools and districts can use Ohio’s School-based Health Care Support Toolkit to get started.
- More than one million school lunches are served every day in Ohio, and our office helps make that happen. Learn more about how to start or expand your child nutrition programs.
- The office provides additional supports to schools and districts that benefit the whole child. These supports include positive behavioral interventions and supports; and information and resources to achieve positive school climate and culture; school-based health care; family and community engagement; trauma-informed schools; social and emotional learning; and anti-bullying, harassment and intimidation.
As you read, we have a lot of responsibility, and we can’t do it alone. We are all partners in ensuring each child is challenged to discover and learn, prepared to pursue a fulfilling post-high school path and empowered to become a resilient lifelong learner who contributes to society. Comment below if you have questions or thoughts about how to support each child in Ohio. I look forward to sharing more about our work with you in future ExtraCredit blogs!
Brittany Miracle works in the Office of Integrated Student Supports. She oversees programs that support vulnerable student populations and helps schools meet the needs of the whole child. You can contact Brittany by clicking here.