Truancy is a symptom that often masks academic difficulties, emotional crises, safety concerns, or low self esteem.
Working with The Village for Families and Children, the Center addresses the critical problem of chronic absenteeism and its impact on academic performance.
Integrated with our school-based services at six Hartford K-8 elementary schools, the program reduces absences and improves academic performance among middle school youth who are chronically absent (missing 10% or more total school days). A Village staff person at each school works with the school attendance team to identify and engage at-risk students and their families, and provides a range of interventions focused on overcoming barriers to regular attendance and increasing school engagement.
For students whose attendance does not sufficiently improve, the program includes linkage with the Juvenile Review Board (JRB), an alternative to Juvenile Court. A JRB case manager follows a structured process of assessment, recommendation, and response to achieve the best outcome for each referred student.
JRB and Village staff receive specialized legal training on pertinent educational issues from Center for Children’s Advocacy attorneys and consultants, as well as legal consultation with CCA staff.
Judge’s Mentoring Program
A judge works students enrolled in the program at Burr, MD Fox, MLK and SAND Schools to address chronic absenteeism:
- A judge visits the school once a month
- Students enrolled in the truancy prevention program gather for light dinner
- Village staff helps facilitate the group with talking points and activities on perspectives and experiences, focusing on the importance of regular attendance for success in school and life
- Judges form relationships with the students through activities and discussions
- Judges offer take-home activities, like journaling or reading specific information to be addressed at the next session
- Judges may consult with Center for Children’s Advocacy attorneys and/or educational consultant when concerned about the educational entitlements of individual students or about systemic issues within the school
- Judges have access to CCA legal training and related materials on important legal educational topics
- Judges make truancy prevention recommendations to Village staff members for each student
Success of the Judge’s Mentoring Program is measured on successful “graduation” from school-based truancy prevention interventions with improved attendance and grades, without the need for further JRB case management supports.
Systemic Work Helps Students throughout Connecticut
Individual cases inform the Center’s systemic advocacy. Too many children are arrested at school for behavior that could be handled within the regular disciplinary system; this example became an integral part of the Center’s advocacy for legislation to provide additional training to help School Resource Officers (SROs) work with youth to resolve behavioral issues and avoid involvement in the juvenile justice system.
It is critically important to raise public awareness about truancy and its root causes.
Stay in School. It’s a big deal.
Video messages from kids who know what they’re talking about.
Publications and Presentations
- Truancy Prevention Project: A model based on holistic intervention to help students succeed
Center for Children’s Advocacy, March 2016 (TPP is a collaborative effort between the Village, the Center for Children’s Advocacy, members of the Connecticut Judicial Department and Hartford Public Schools. The Project is funded by Travelers and The Tow Foundation.)
- Addressing Truancy – Innovative Approaches to Systemically Increasing Attendance and Reducing Chronic Truancy
The impact of truancy on students, schools, communities and society is profound. It is critical to take a multi-faceted approach to prevent and reduce truancy.
- Blind Spot: The Impact of Missed Early Warning Signs on Children’s Mental Health
Andrea Spencer, PhD, Educational Consultant to the Center for Children’s Advocacy, 2012
- Why Should I Care about Absences in High School? (English and Spanish)
For parents: what will happen if your child is often absent or tardy in high school? Helping parents work with the school so their children can succeed.
- Truancy Intervention: National Models and Connecticut Initiatives
Center for Children’s Advocacy, December 2015
- Truancy Reports
Two reports by Andrea Spencer, PhD, Educational Consultant to the Center for Children’s Advocacy
– A closer look at the link between unmet educational needs and truancy, December 2006
– Las Niñas Silenciadas: Broken links between language, culture and learning, February 2009
- Changing the Judiciary’s Relaltionship with a Community, One Child at a Time
ABA Judges’ Journal Summer 2007 Features the work of Justice Richard Palmer and Appellate Judge Douglas Lavine with the Truancy Prevention Project
For more information, contact Marisa Halm, JD