Blog Posts, Uncategorized

New Governor: New ED Priorities

Earlier this month, Ohio welcomed its newest Governor, Mike DeWine. Even before his official inauguration, Governor DeWine began announcing some of his key education and youth-focused priorities. Today EnvisionEdPlus is highlighting some of these priorities and sharing our current thoughts regarding how these priorities could play out to support Ohio’s young people.

The Governor’s Children’s Initiative. Governor DeWine’s first staff appointment was to create the Governor’s Children’s Initiative and hire its first Director, LeeAnne Cornyn, who is charged to “improve communication across all Ohio agencies that provide services to children, engage partners across all sectors (governmental and private) to better align efforts and funding, and advance policy as well as initiate and guide enhancements related to home visiting, early intervention, foster care, children’s health and pediatric systems”. This was the first step to address some of his key youth-focused priorities. Shortly thereafter, Governor DeWine issued several executive orders to provide greater authority within several state departments to individuals charged with a) opioid and other drug prevention and recovery, b) improving foster care services, and c) mental health and addiction prevention services.

New Director at Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (ODMHAS).   I was personally thrilled to learn Lori Criss was appointed as the new Director at ODMHAS. Of course, I was excited because Lori was one of my closest high school friends (love when Steubenville Catholic Central HS Crusader alumnae shine). But, more importantly, throughout her career, Lori’s passion and persistence to prevent youth suicide and address addiction through strong behavioral health supports clearly demonstrate her ability to lead one of Ohio’s most important youth and family serving departments.

The EnvisionEdPlus team looks forward to supporting the work of Directors Criss and Cornyn as they begin rolling out opportunities for communities, youth and families to support child centered prevention, education and recovery.

Education and the Upcoming Biennial Budget. In recent months, Governor DeWine identified education priorities we anticipate will be included in his recommendations for the State’s 2019-2021 biennial budget. While the Governor has not yet released his budget, here is a snapshot of the key education and related plans which may have direct, and indirect effects on schools, youth, families and youth-serving organizations across Ohio.

  • Opioids: Institute abuse-prevention programs at every grade level.
  • Gun violence and control: Add mental health services in schools and add school resource officers.
  • Education funding and testing: Reduce the number of mandated standardized tests; introduce more fairness to the state school funding formula.
  • Jobs and the economy: Expand the use of career tech centers, apprenticeships, and job certification programs.
  • Children: Invest more state money into high-quality early childhood care and preschool.

We also recommend you check out Jessica Poiner’s November 8 blog highlighting then Governor-Elect DeWine’s education plans from the perspective of the Thomas Fordham Institute. From our perspective, her assessment remains right on target.

Ohio has established a strong track-record of using competitive grants to incubate innovation, with a growing emphasis on cross-sector partnership, over the past decade. Given Governor DeWine’s mutual emphasis on children and collaboration, we expect that trend to take off, perhaps with greater alignment of state services and priorities. Education and youth-serving organizations should be prepared to evolve from collecting partnerships that add disparate student services to designing well-aligned, cross-sector systems that comprehensively support the children and families they serve.

Here are two ready-made opportunities to leverage cross-system collaboration:

  • School-based Wraparound and Prevention. EnvisionEdPlus is hoping Governor DeWine’s plans include re-emphasizing the role of intermediary organizations, such as county Family and Children First Councils, to build infrastructure for comprehensive, whole child support systems. In the last six months, we have received requests from numerous districts to assist them in creating school-based wraparound and prevention systems. Should the Governor promote cross-system collaboration related to mental health, we envision a resurgence in efforts like the Care Team Collaborative framework I incubated through Muskingum Valley ESC nearly a decade ago. We also recommend you check out Stark County C.A.R.E. Team and OSU-CAYCI School-Community Collaboration school-based wraparound initiatives.
  • School-Business Collaborations. We won’t be surprised if funding is directed to support expansions in school-business collaborations to provide high school students more access to work-based learning experiences. The Governor specifically calls for a Student Work Experience Tax Incentive for businesses that provide students with work opportunities.  He also wants to see regional job-training partnerships  with local businesses, education providers, and community leaders. Ohio’s Business Advisory Councils (BACs) could be great incubators and convening organizations. Through our work with the Mahoning Valley Business Advisory Council and the Marion Area Workforce Acceleration Collaborative (MAWAC), we see great potential for BACs to bring new workforce aligned opportunities for Ohio’s youth.

Over the next several months, we will provide updates throughout the legislative session as they relate to education and healthy youth development.

~Michele Timmons, EnvisionEdPlus President (michele@envisionedplus.com 614.893.7341)