Nashville, TN – The Tennessee Department of Education has released a toolkit on child wellbeing checks to help ensure the needs of children are being met during and after extended periods away from school and to empower local communities to support child wellbeing.
To support this work, the department is setting aside $1 million in federal COVID-19 relief funding to provide regional support for districts in implementing safe and healthy practices in schools.
Details of how districts may apply will be shared with directors of schools in the coming days. In addition, a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) grant will fund eight regional staff to support this work across the state.
“Since we know many children have experienced adversity due to the pandemic, child wellbeing checks are a deliberate way all stakeholders in the community can help ensure the needs of our children are met,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “I am encouraged by the hard work and dedication of the Task Force and our districts to support kids and their holistic needs.”
In response to the pandemic’s long-term effects on Tennessee’s school districts and students, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee charged Commissioner Schwinn to convene the COVID-19 Child Wellbeing Task Force. The goal of the taskforce is to help communities come together to check on our kids and support the holistic needs of Tennessee children.
To verify the wellbeing and identify needs of all Tennessee children, the Task Force will be coordinating efforts with a district designee who can identify local community entities to partner in this work. Each district’s designee, as well as regional staff hired for this work, would participate in monthly child wellbeing calls and report on the completion of child wellbeing checks for students zoned within the local community.
“Schools are working valiantly to provide supports and meet the needs of students, but they cannot be expected to do so by themselves,” said Samantha Wigand, CEO of Communities in Schools- Tennessee, and member of Child Wellbeing Task Force. “Youth serving organizations, such as CIS-TN, CIS-M, and many others are poised to amplify the work of the Task Force and partner with schools in support of students and families to help coordinate these wellbeing checks and help meet the needs of all Tennessee students.”
The wellbeing checks toolkit contains additional information and explanation on how child wellbeing checks are defined, how district designees can be selected, the wellbeing check process, the implementation process and models, templates, and a resource list.
Guidelines established in this toolkit are encouraged to be enacted during any period of extended school closure, through virtual school models, and when students return to school after extended periods away.
The Child Wellbeing Checks Toolkit can be viewed here: https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/education/child-well-being-task-force/Wellbeing%20Checks_Publication.pdf
The COVID-19 Child Wellbeing Task Force recently released the Initial COVID-19 Impact Report, which can be found here, along with a companion summary here, which highlight how the pandemic has impacted children and families.
For access to additional resources related to reopening schools, visit the Tennessee Department of Education’s Reopening webpage: https://www.tn.gov/education/health-and-safety/update-on-coronavirus/reopening-guidance.html.