New Survey from Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio, in partnership with Baldwin Wallace University Community Research Institute, shows Ohio parents overwhelmingly support “Whole Child” Education and Social-Emotional Learning

The state of Ohio has made a commitment to prioritize whole child well-being in the classroom. This commitment will ensure that children’s health, safety, and basic needs are met, helping them to fully engage in their learning and access educational opportunities needed to thrive. Ohio’s Whole Child Framework places the whole child at the center of focus—with district, school, family, and community using a comprehensive approach to support the needs of the child’s needs. This framework was developed over 10 months by educators, school counselors, and experts in child behavioral health, family engagement, social-emotional learning (SEL), and other educational fields. The guide is designed to help Ohio school districts focus beyond academics and meet students’ needs in physical and mental health, social-emotional, and safety.

However, in recent years, debates in Ohio and across the country have grown heated and divisive in educational spaces. These debates have given rise to the appearance of widespread and vocal opposition—especially among parents with school-aged children—regarding the curriculum schools are teaching, including the use of whole child approaches in education.

But what do Ohio parents and caregivers truly want for their children’s education?

To answer this critical question, Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio (CDF-Ohio) partnered with Baldwin Wallace University’s Community Research Institute (BW CRI) to conduct the first statewide poll that asks Ohio parents to weigh in on these issues.

Over the past six months, CDF-Ohio worked with BW CRI researchers to design a survey instrument that could accurately, without bias, measure parents’ attitudes towards the Whole Child Framework. This survey consisted of 71 questions, including three optional open-ended questions, that fell into nine unique categories, including school nutrition, mental health, life skills, trust in teachers, and social-emotional learning. From May 9–May 28, 2022, BW CRI’s researchers engaged in data collection with SurveyUSA to interview 1,370 Ohio parents of K-12 students. The now-analyzed results, provided in detail in two new reports, outline the views of Ohio parents.

The message is clear: regardless of race, gender, age, education, religion, economic status, area of residence, or political affiliation—Ohio parents and caregivers overwhelmingly support whole child education approaches, want schools to prioritize equity, and entrust their children’s educators to be partners in their children’s success.

In sum, there is unity and common ground.

Notably, there were slight differences in support related to party affiliation, geographic location, race, education, and income, among others. Still, no less than seven in 10 parents agreed with nearly 40 statements on the value of their children’s education, including nutrition and mental health services, social-emotional learning, and equity.

In many cases, support was at or above 90%.

Survey Highlights

Ohio parents support free school meals for all students—ensuring all children have the nutrition they need to be healthy and learn.

Ohio parents support mental health priorities in schools and want increased funding to support more on-site school-based services for students.

Ohio parents support the Whole Child Framework and approaches to support the whole child in schools that prioritize equity in education.

Ohio parents trust their child’s classroom teachers to teach age-appropriate content and be good role models.

Ohio parents support the teaching of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) in schools to set their children up for future success.

Dive deeper into the survey findings to learn more about the data we captured from Ohio parents:

Press Release

New Survey Shows Ohio Parents Overwhelmingly Support “Whole Child” Education

Executive Summary

Finding Unity and Common Ground: What Ohio Parents Want for Their Children’s Education (Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio, August 2022)

Topline Report

Prepared for Children’s Defense Fund of Ohio (Baldwin Wallace University Community Research Institute, July 2022)

Take Action

Misinformation in educational spaces drives a wedge between our communities at the expense of our children and what they need to thrive. But, with so much unity and common ground among us, there is hope. Raising awareness for whole child education is critical at this moment. This ensures Ohio students receive the support they need to learn and access opportunities to help them live well. Are you interested in sharing these survey results with your community, local school board, or elected leaders to share the truth about what Ohio parents want for their children? We created a slide deck and social media toolkit that anyone can use to take action to promote whole child well-being in their communities. You will have access to the key facts, figures, and data from this survey.

For more information about this survey, please contact Alison Paxson, Senior Policy Associate, at