Where will I get my next meal? Do I have a way of getting to school? What if my parents can’t find a place to live?
These are the kinds of questions kids should not be asking. However, for some children in our community, these concerns overshadow questions about math, science, and reading. School can feel secondary to survival. But in our community, school can provide the links to health, safety, and security that children need to thrive.
The Ashland County School-Community Liaison Program (SCLP) was established in 1999 to provide support to students facing challenges that interfere with their academic success. Since then, the partnership between Appleseed Community Mental Health Center, the Mental Health and Recovery Board of Ashland County, and local school districts has served tens of thousands of students.
Goals of the program include increasing student attendance, responding to daily crisis situations in the school, and enhancing student coping skills. This also goes hand in hand with increasing partnerships and communication between parents and schools, and providing easier access to community resources.
“I want children to know they are better than they can ever imagine,” says Tammy Hoverstock, school liaison at Hillsdale Local Schools. SCLP helps them get there by coming to the schools on a daily basis to provide the following:
“We don’t just focus on school; we also focus on the home,” says Hoverstock, recalling a homeless family that was living in a camper in the district. SCLP made sure the children were provided with breakfast and lunch, but they extended help beyond the school day as well, making sure the family had evening meals. They also provided transportation to school, freeing up time for the adults to focus on their living situation.
“Without the school liaison program,” Hoverstock continues, “I would worry about children having to worry about adult problems and not just be kids and go to school. . .they would fall through the cracks.”
The program is primarily funded by Ashland County citizens through the passage of the Mental Health and Recovery Board Levy, with additional funds dedicated by some individual school districts. The levy last passed in 2015 and is up for renewal (not an increase) in 2020. Data shows that through services from SCLP, more than 85% of students improved their academic performance, attendance and behavior at school. Without a funding renewal, 20% of Ashland children will lose access to these life-changing resources.
Learn more about the levy and how to support this program, by clicking here.