DHS Plans To Expand Student Support Services In Schools

Thursday, July 23rd 2020, 4:54 pm
By: Tevis Hillis

As districts are gearing up to restart classes, the state's Department of Human Services' school-based services program is working to improve the out of the classroom obstacles students might be facing.

"They are not a school counselor; they are not a social worker. They really are that resource connection," said Casey White, the DHS spokesperson.

The goal is to help families get the things they need.

"They make connections with the families with state and local resources those could be things like services we offer here at DHS, like SNAP, TANF, Medical," said White.

They can also help find a local food pantry or stable housing as families work to navigate the pandemic.

"At DHS, we are seeing record numbers of people who are coming forward and needing services," said White.

Some of the people in need now are people who have never asked for services before.

 Schools can apply for a specialist to help students navigate the next steps.

"The specialist is really going to serve as that critical recourse connection point for families," said White.  

As virtual learning became a reality for Oklahoma City Public Schools and could spread to other districts, officials said they have a plan to help virtual students, too.

"Our goal is to meet families right where they are within their local communities," said White. "That can look a lot of different ways, and I think we will just work with our local school districts and local school itself to find the best way to meet our customers right where they are."