Meeting students’ needs beyond academics


(Posted March 8, 2023)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

Madison-Plains is implementing two new services to meet students’ needs outside of academics. One is in-school mental health services, and the other is a room equipped with a washer and dryer, clean clothes, and toiletries for students who are homeless or at risk of being homeless.

Mental health services
On Feb. 21, the school board approved a $44,000 contract with OhioGuidestone to provide behavioral health, consultation, and prevention services on campus for the remainder of the 2022-23 school year. Those services started the week of March 6.

A licensed OhioGuidestone counselor is on site three days a week to meet with students. The services are open to any student in grades K-12. Teachers can refer students or students can self-refer for services. In either case, parental permission is required.

“We know that there’s a need. There’s already a waiting list of kids who want to talk to somebody,” said Superintendent Chad Eisler.

The counselor could be on campus the other two days of the week, as well, for students who need services outside the scope of the general offerings that require insurance payment through Medicaid.

Clean clothes room
Madison-Plains received a $16,500 homeless targeted assistance grant through the state-administered American Rescue Plan. The funds will be used at the grades 7-12 building to establish a room where students can wash and dry their clothes, get clean clothes in a pinch, and pick up hygiene supplies such as dental hygiene and feminine hygiene products and deodorant.

All Ohio school districts were eligible to apply for funding. Grant administrators contacted Madison-Plains officials directly, encouraging them to apply.

“It’s not something that we were actively pursuing on our own, but when the resources became available, we thought it was a good opportunity to help students who are homeless or at risk of being homeless. We didn’t really see any negative aspect to it,” said Madison-Plains Treasurer Todd Mustain.

Mustain said the district doesn’t have a large number of homeless students but does have students who could be at risk of becoming homeless due to poverty levels in the area.

“Things have gotten more expensive, things we might take for granted, like detergent. This grant is trying to fill that need,” he explained.

Mustain said the district plans to make the room an open resource that all students could use in order to take away any stigma that might be associated with using it. School officials are brainstorming on how to connect students with the service once the room is up and running. They are considering using part of the grant money to pay one or more staffers a stipend to oversee its operation.

The district is in the process of assessing the space and getting quotes for a washer, dryer, sink, cabinetry, and other equipment. Grant funds also will be used to install better lighting and finish the walls and floors. The designated space already has water hookups.

“The space currently is only being used for storage, so it’s not being used to its full potential,” Mustain said, adding that the room could double as a staging area for food distributions provided by local non-profits to students.

The room likely will be completed before the start of the 2023-24 school year.


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