All children require a healthy platform that will enable them to attend school and succeed. Children who live in poverty often have a unique set of significant needs that may include mental and physical health issues, housing instability, family violence – all of which impede their abilities to take full advantage of the learning opportunities available to them at school.

The challenges our families face are complex, and the Commonwealth is committed to working more collaboratively across state government and with families in order to be more responsive to the diverse needs of children. In response to families’ expressed need for more coordinated services and in recognition of the importance of a more holistic system, we have taken a careful look at the way we deliver services for children, youth, and families in Massachusetts.

We believe there is an opportunity to improve families’ access to information and services, their overall experiences, and the way in which those serving children and families understand and address families’ diverse needs in a holistic and well-coordinated manner. EOHHS, with its partners, seeks to transform Massachusetts’ system to a strengths-based, family-centric model that serves the whole child and family.

Supporting the healthy development of children in an effective, well-coordinated way will require strong collaboration between our human service and education systems. We recognize the challenges of coordinating human services with the 300+ Local Education Authorities (LEAs) across the Commonwealth. However, with the guidance of the Child & Youth Readiness Cabinet, we are working to develop a comprehensive set of strategies for providing the services and supports necessary to ensure all students have an opportunity to achieve positive results in school. To date, we have implemented strategies to partner more effectively with underperforming schools, connecting these schools with the appropriate human services agencies.

The Readiness Cabinet is a state leadership team focused on streamlining state efforts to improve services for children, youth and families and includes the state secretaries of Education, Health and Human Services, Administration and Finance, Housing and Economic Development, Labor and Workforce Development, Public Safety, and the Child Advocate. The Cabinet works to foster and coordinate efforts to enhance the level of cooperation and collaboration across the state departments and agencies that serve children, youth and families. Among other things, the Cabinet works to set the strategic direction for interagency policy planning, development and implementation in order to advance the health, well-being and education of children and youth, and prepare them to be successful and contributing adults.

To advance this priority, EOHHS, in partnership with the Executive Office of Education (EOE) and the Child and Youth Readiness Cabinet, have launched a number of activities and identified key strategic goals, highlighted below.

Strategic goals supporting Ensuring that Children are Ready to Learn

Goal 1: Improve student attendance

Goal 2: Meet families’ support needs

Goal 3: Address student’s non-academic needs (e.g., behavioral, mental, and physical health)

This information is from the Executive Office of Health and Human Services.