Blogger Maria Trivisonno

Serving the Whole Child

I recently had the opportunity to attend a discussion at the City Club of Cleveland pertaining to the Whole Child Framework adopted by the Ohio Department of Education.  Meryl Johnson, a member of the Ohio State Board of Education, Dr. Tracy Nájera, executive director of the Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio, and Joseph Spiccia, superintendent of the Wickliffe City School District were members of a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Lisa Damour, author, psychologist, and Senior Advisor to the Schubert Center for Child Studies, Case Western Reserve University.

Moderation by Dr. Damour intrigued me, as her 2019 book Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls was published at a time when several young women in my life were dealing with bullying and anxiety.  Indeed, the event description references the U.S. Surgeon General’s advisory on our current youth mental health crisis, which was surely exacerbated by COVID-19. 

Experts advocated for universal free lunches at school. “20120907-FNS-LSC-0544” by USDAgov is marked with Public Domain Mark 1.0. To view the terms, visit

You can watch the discussion on the City Club link, and the experts can express the details better than I; however, overall, the discussion was about centering ALL the child’s needs.  Maslow’s Hierarchy must be met for learning to occur. Panelists advocated for universal free lunches at schools and discussed community partnerships to meet mental and physical health needs at Family Resource Centers located at schools but open to the wider community. 

How can public libraries help?  Many already work with local foodbanks to offer free food; I know my system does summer lunches/afterschool meals and monthly pantry events.  We also now have four resource closets where families with children can pick up cleaning supplies, toiletries, and feminine hygiene products. 

We can also offer programming that focuses on social-emotional learning and on engaging the family.  I love how, in the Whole Child Framework diagram, the family and community seem to be embracing the child.  Can we further engage families in their children’s literacy and emotional development? 

How are your libraries addressing the whole child?

This post addresses the core competencies of I. Commitment to Client Group and III. Programming Skills.

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