The Oklahoma Human Services (OKDHS) has announced an expansion of the School-Based Services Program.

Collaborating with the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) and local districts, the program expansion will reportedly allow the agency and partnered schools to hire more School-Based Specialists to help support children and families across the state.

According to Superintendent Kyle Reynolds, Woodward Public Schools (WPS) took advantage of the program partnership several years ago.

“The position became invaluable over time as it gave us a direct connection to DHS and other community resources for our students with the greatest needs,” Reynolds said. “When the program was discontinued, WPS made the decision to keep the position and fund it locally, which has certainly been a challenge given the fiscal challenges of recent years.”

Participation in the program is gained through an application process by interested school districts. The dedicated purpose is to provide a human services connection and support to the children and families served by the school, as well as the school’s teachers and administrators, according to the OKDHS release.

Reportedly, the School-Based Services program improves outcomes and reducing risk factors for students and families, while impacting the well-being of their communities.

“We are certainly looking into the rejuvenated SBSW program to determine whether or not we will be able to take advantage of the partnership,” Reynolds said. “We are definitely seeing more students experiencing challenges given the downturn in the economy and uptick in unemployment, so we will need as much support as possible to make sure those students' needs are addressed.”

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister commented that in the midst of the pandemic children need extra support more than ever.

“We are proud of this partnership and the positive impact it will have for so many Oklahoma students.” Hofmeister said. “We also worked with OKDHS and other stakeholders to develop the training for the selected applicants who will fill these much-needed positions.”

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