VIsion: All students are physically, emotionally, and socially well with strong family supports so that each students develops to their own potential
The Why: The Ottawa Community Schools Network (OCSN) was formed to integrate the various health and community supports for students and families in the Ottawa Area into one seamless system delivered through existing school-based facilities. The primary goal of Ottawa Community Schools Network (OCSN) is that all students in the Pre-K through 12 education system are physically, emotionally and socially well, and have strong family supports to ensure that each student is developing to his/her potential. Using public schools as the nucleus of community interaction, OCSN brings together health and human services into the school building to serve students and their families through a “community school” approach. Coordinating resources and services within the school setting removes many barriers for families and helps keep students in school. When students’ non-cognitive needs are met, they are free to expend their energy on learning.
The Goal: The Network partners with local public and private organizations to meet the needs of the whole child by providing physical, social/emotional and mental health services to students and families of the Ottawa Area. The goals of the OCSN are to:
- Improve academic and learning outcomes for students
- Decrease truancy and student absences related to health condition or family function
- Decrease need for behavioral intervention in the school environment
- Increase access to physical, social/emotional and mental health assistance for students/families
- Empower parents to serve as partners - not only their child’s education - but in school-wide improvement
- Increased number of strategic partners that are formed between the school, local businesses and nonprofits.
The How: OCSN is a collective impact effort to support the development of full-service community schools through staffing infrastructure and technical assistance. OCSN was launched in 2017 using OAISD and CMH Mental Health Millage dollars to begin the implementation of the community schools strategy. OCSN was started as a pilot in 5 schools between Holland, Coopersville, and Zeeland Public Schools. In the Fall of 2019, OCSN expanded into 6 new schools. They are now in 11 schools between 6 districts.