Editor’s Note: Give students a path to success

Ingrid Jacques
The Detroit News

When Ingrid McGowan goes to work every day, the Michigan case worker’s files come to life. That’s because her office is located directly in Detroit’s East English Village Preparatory Academy.

For the past two years, McGowan has worked at the school as part of the state’s Pathways for Potential program, under the Department of Human Services.

Starting in 2013, social workers—known as success coaches—began working in public schools in high-need areas. Now they are based in more than 200 schools around the state. Since the social workers are at the schools, they have much more direct contact with students and parents. That has translated to higher attendance, more parental involvement and better outcomes for families.

This week, Gov. Rick Snyder launched the Department of Health and Human Services, which combines the DHS and Department of Community Health. The idea is to provide more seamless delivery of services, to help get families back on their feet—which is Pathways’ goal.

Snyder likes talking about the “river of opportunity,” and the Pathways program is a perfect example.

McGowan sees herself as more than a case worker. She is also a mentor, and helps connect students with everything from clothing to personal hygiene products.

“I walk into the school and take care of business,” McGowan says.