Houston ISD officials confirmed plans to cut an undetermined number of employees providing wraparound support services to students on issues related to housing insecurity, clothing and food scarcity.

The overview

HISD employs around 300 wraparound specialists who help students and their families with issues outside of the classroom, including:
  • Food support
  • Tutoring
  • Mentoring
  • Help obtaining basic needs, such as clothing and hygiene products
Jose Irizarry, HISD senior media relations specialist, said campus-level wraparound services had been funded by Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds doled out in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“State funding for education has not increased, and time-limited COVID[-19] aid from the federal government—known as ESSER—ends with this school year,” Irizarry said in a statement. “Since that money will not be available going forward, HISD will coordinate wraparound supports at the division and district level next school year.”

HISD officials said they could not confirm the number of employees who would be impacted by the cuts.

“Employees whose positions are being eliminated or changed are being notified, and HISD will support impacted employees who wish to remain at the district in pursuing open positions in other departments,” Irizarry said.

What’s next

HISD officials said district campuses will continue to provide emergency supports to students, noting regional support centers would provide more comprehensive support to students and their families.

Additionally, officials announced in a May 6 news release that the district is expanding its partnership with Hazel Health to every campus and regional support center in the district.

According to the news release, HISD is investing $1.8 million to expand its work with Hazel Health to provide:
  • Free telehealth services for every HISD student
  • Resources to support school nurses
  • Behavioral and mental health counseling
  • Access to a clinical support team to help families navigate long-term treatment plans
  • Immediate access to common over-the-counter medicines as well as prescription refills
In the coming weeks, officials said HISD and Hazel Health will hold community events to demonstrate how telehealth visits work, and to support campuses and families in accessing the available services.

The efforts are coming as officials implement the district's new "continuum of care" model for students. Officials noted the initiative included the creation of seven Sunrise Centers throughout the district, which serve as community hubs where students and their families can access essential services from a variety of partners and providers.