Task force to propose 'wrap-around' services model for district's schools

From the outside, Oyler School in Cincinnati looks like an ordinary building, but from the inside, it’s “breathtaking,” according to Beverly Wright, CH-UH Board of Education member. She and four other members of the district’s Community In Schools Task Force recently visited Cincinnati for an in-depth look at “the Cadillac of wrap-around schools.”

Oyler gained national recognition for its groundbreaking embrace of wrap-around services: full-scale health clinics (including mental, dental and vision care), child care, enrichment programming, one-to-one mentoring, and other services that meet a vast array of student needs.

The CH-UH district began looking at this model two years ago, led by Teachers Union President Ari Klein and Superintendent Talisa Dixon. The task force, comprising more than 30 district staff, community members, and representatives from potential partner agencies, began meeting last spring and plans to present a proposal to the school board by April.

The United Way of Greater Cleveland is guiding the process to help the district identify student and family needs, explore ways to meet those needs, and develop a plan specific to its individual buildings. United Way representatives will spend the next few months interviewing civic and business leaders, conducting focus groups with district parents, and surveying teachers to determine priorities. The task force will then use this information to propose a model that could work for CH-UH.

While the CH-UH district already offers various features of wrap-around services, including the Greater Cleveland Food Bank school market and Cleveland Clinic mobile unit at Boulevard and Oxford elementary schools, one key goal of the task force is to devise a plan that would coordinate wrap-around services and include an evaluation component to ensure programs meet identified needs.

Aside from an initial investment in planning and construction, all of Oyler’s wrap-around programs are self-sustaining. Each agency comes up with its own funding, by billing health insurance and Medicaid, charging fees for its services, or relying on its own pool of outside donors. The schools simply provide the space and coordinate a steady stream of clients.

At Oyler, the CH-UH visitors noticed a sense of collaboration and coordination among staff members. Lisa Hunt, family engagement specialist for the CH-UH district, noted, “The community, school staff and partner agencies have managed to achieve a centralized vision of ‘education first’ while simultaneously meeting so many other needs.”

Krissy Dietrich Gallagher

Krissy Dietrich Gallagher, a longtime resident of Cleveland Heights, is a former district teacher and a freelance journalist under contract with the CH-UH City School District. A longer version of this story appeared at www.chuh.org.

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Volume 11, Issue 1, Posted 9:39 AM, 01.03.2018