Experts on “wraparound” social services in schools in Cincinnati and Washington, D.C., will discuss Cleveland’s efforts Thursday

Plain Dealer - March 10, 2014

by Patrick O’Donnell on

Panelists from Cincinnati and Washington, D.C., with experience mixing social services and schools will discuss the challenges and opportunities for Cleveland as the school district increases its own “wraparound” efforts in two sessions at The City Club Thursday.

Martin Blank, president of the Institute for Educational Leadership and theCoalition for Community Schools, and Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld, assistant director, of the Community Learning Center Institute in Cincinnati, will be part of both the City Cub’s traditional lunchtime forum and of asecond panel at 4 p.m.

Eric Gordon, chief executive officer of the Cleveland schools, and Bill Kitson, president and CEO of the United Way of Greater Cleveland will join Blank and Sittenfeld at the lunch session.

The district and the United Way are partnering to connect services to students at 17 schools across the city, including the 13 struggling “Investment Schools” the district has targeted for improvement efforts this school year.

Wraparound services will expand to the 10 newly-named Investment Schools for next year in the fall.

Representatives from the H. Barbara Booker and Mound wraparound schools as well as from the Promise Neighborhood Initiative in Cleveland’s Central neighborhood will join the afternoon panel.

Piet van Lier, education researcher for Policy Matters Ohio, a left-leaning think tank based in Cleveland and Columbus, organized the event and will moderate both panels.

Van Lier called Blank “the most prominent advocate for this approach at the national level” and planned the sessions around a visit by Blank to Cleveland State University.

He also said he has watched wraparound work in Cincinnati for several years and had long hoped similar work would start here in Cleveland.

Van Lier said the lunchtime panel will give an overview of the model, while the afternoon one will provide the perspective of those implementing it. He said both panels will cover the following questions:

— What are the opportunities presented by this approach, and what will help it succeed (i.e., policies, partners, institutions, etc.)?

— What are the challenges? What gets in the way of success?

— How should we measure success?

— What kind of financial resources are needed to make it work?

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