ONE Lowell Truancy Prevention Program
At ONE Lowell we keep extensive information on all of our students. In this report we have included information on 9th graders from 2005 – present by year. We are also including our final report from last year, which presents information on all students served throughout the school year last year.
At ONE Lowell we have four parent liaisons, two work with the Hispanic families, one who works with the Cambodian families, and one who works with the Brazilian families. The program is simple but effective, utilizing five sequential steps:
1) Receive referral from the schools;
2) Make home visit with parents and assess the reasons for truancy;
3) Facilitate visits between the schools and parents until parents feel comfortable coming into the schools on their own;
4) Connect the families to auxiliary services and benefits that improve their quality of life;
5) Follow the student’s attendance weekly through attendance updates from the school department and make subsequent visits as needed.
When we initiated this program in 2004 we set a goal of improving the attendance of 20% of the students referred. These students have had habitually poor attendance for many years, and we were initially concerned that changing their attendance habits after so long a time would be daunting. However, over the years we have found that we generally help about 60 – 70% of all students improve their attendance, with the greatest success coming in the lower grades when parents have greater control over their children. While high school students are more difficult to change than middle schoolers, we still are able to significantly impact most of the students referred to us.
9th Graders Only 2005 – present by school year
2005 – 2006: Total of 26 students, where 62% improved their attendance with an improvement rate of 51%
For these students our parent liaisons made a total of 422 home visits, being able to speak with parents during 275 visits. Our liaisons facilitated 30 visits to the schools with parents and another 52 visits to the schools on behalf of the student when parents could not attend.
Our liaisons made 33 referrals for these families, with parents following up on 29 of them. These new services that were implemented included: 4 students who started counseling, 3 parents who started counseling, 1 family who was able to move to better housing through Section 8 housing, 2 students who joined youth programs, 4 students who received educational programs such as an IEP, Tutoring, etc., 5 families that received health care services that they needed, 1 who received public assistance such as food stamps, 2 who received help finding employment, 2 who received assistance from DSS, 2 who we worked together with their probation officer, 2 who we helped the parent file a CHINS and supported them at court, and 1 where we needed to file a 51A to DSS.
2006 – 2007: Total of 28 students, where 61% improved their attendance with an improvement rate of 33%
For these students our parent liaisons made a total of 374 home visits, being able to speak with parents during 225 visits. Our liaisons facilitated 18 visits to the schools with parents and another 82 visits to the schools on behalf of the student when parents could not attend.
Our liaisons made 37 referrals for these families, with parents following up on 12 of them. These new services that were implemented included: 2 students who started counseling, 2 parents who started counseling, 1 family who received fuel assistance, 1 family who was able to move to better housing through Section 8 housing, 2 students who joined youth programs, 1 student who received an educational programs such as an IEP, Tutoring, etc., 1 who received assistance from DSS, 1 who we worked together with their probation officer, and 2 who we helped the parent file a CHINS and supported them at court.
2007 – present: Total of 27 students so far, where 78% improved their attendance with an improvement rate of 49%.
So far this year for these students our parent liaisons have made a total of 182 home visits, being able to speak with parents during 106 visits. Our liaisons facilitated 4 visits to the schools with parents and another 33 visits to the schools on behalf of the student when parents could not attend.
This year our Shannon grant funding did not come through until December, delaying our ability to start working with these students in September, resulting in lower numbers at this point in the school year.
However, so far our liaisons have made 8 referrals for these families so far, with parents following up on 4 of them. These new services that were implemented included: 1 student who started counseling, 2 students who received an educational programs such as an IEP, Tutoring, etc., and 1 student where we filed a 51A with DSS.
Final Report – July 15, 2007
The School Success for Newcomer Parents’ Initiative
Regarding our goals, ONE Lowell has been able to exceed our goals on this project. Accomplishments include:
- Improved attendance for 70% of all referrals.
- Of the 70% who improved, the median rate of improvement was 53%
- In 2006-07, 10 students did not miss a single day of class after the initial home visit.
- In 2006-07 we worked with three 12th graders. All three graduated!
- For the past school year, 2006-2007, ONE Lowell raised sufficient funds for a full-time Cambodian Parent Liaison, a full-time and one part-time Latino Parent Liaison, and a part time Brazilian parent liaison.
Regarding our level of service in 2006 – 2007:
Our Cambodian parent liaison worked with 72 students/families (goal was 46), made 587 home visits (goal was 92), met with parents 388 times (goal was 92), facilitated 39 visits between parents and school officials (goal was 23). He also made 255 school visits with out parents
Our part time Latino parent liaison worked with 49 students/families (goal was 23), made 242 home visits (goal was 46), met with parents 140 times (goal was 46), facilitated 6 visits between parents and school officials (goal was 13). She also made 79 school visits with out parents
Our full time Latino parent liaison worked with 67 students/families (goal was 46), made 505 home visits (goal was 92), met with parents 268 times (goal was 92), facilitated 75 visits between parents and school officials (goal was 23). She also made 261 School visits with out parents.
Our Brazilian parent liaison worked with 30 students/ families (goal was 23), made 117 home visits (goal was 46), met with parents 79 times (goal was 46), and facilitated 17 visits between the school and parents (goal was 13). She also made 40 school visits with out parents.
During the past year ONE Lowell made 35 referrals for counseling for students, 30 referrals for counseling for parents, 1 referral for gang intervention, 14 referrals for fuel assistance, 8 referrals for Section 8 housing, 14 referrals for youth programs, 39 referrals for after educational programs, 44 referrals for health care, and 4 referrals for public assistance (food stamps or cash benefits). Total services received: 189 (goal was 138).
· The total number of students served was: 218
· The total number of parents served was: 131
· The total number of siblings being indirectly impacted by our work was: 209
· Total number of individuals served was: 558
· Total number of home visits made was: 1451
· Total number of visits with parents: 875
· Total number of facilitated visits between parents and the school: 137
We continue to learn more about the incredible impact that poverty, language, and culture has on children in relation to education. For example, when a family can’t afford heat and do not know how to obtain fuel assistance, everyone gets sick and children don’t go to school. When children have issues with teachers and their parents do not know how to approach the school, the solution is often to just let the child stay home. When parents are ill or siblings need a caregiver, students stay home and parents don’t understand that to have an excused absence they need to send in a note. With at least half of our cases with older students, parents are not even aware that their child is missing school.
While educational excellence can encompass many things, the simplest and most profound is having a child present at school, consistently, so that they can learn. The presence of a child at school will not, alone, determine success. But without being present, failure is guaranteed. It is my hope that even more focus will be brought to bear on the issue of truancy.
We have also learned the enormous value in working with parents as well as with the students. So much work with youth is done without involving the parent. When parents have language and culture barriers they are also even more isolated from the lives of their children. While some parents are neglectful and/or abusive and this results in truancy, most of our parents are neither neglectful nor abusive – they simply don’t know how to help their children. Our work empowers these parents to take better control over the lives of their children. In the process, we teach them how to advocate for their children as well as how to obtain important services for their family.
Finally, we have learned that about 10% – 20% of highly truant youth on our caseload are suffering from tragedies. We have youth who are highly truant because they were hospitalized for illness. We have youth who missed school because a parent is dying or has died. Sometimes it is their only parent. We have a student whose older brother was shot this spring by a rival gang and now he lives in fear. If that wasn’t enough, the Housing Authority was going to remove them (a family of 8!) from their home because people involved with gangs are not allowed in public housing. We have young girls who have been raped and the perpetrator goes to their school, and they refuse to report the crime for fear of more violence. We have youth who are living all alone or with a slightly older sibling, working 40 hours per week and still trying to make it through high school. We have young girls in middle school who are pregnant or already have babies. The lives of many of our students are harsh, and this can result in truancy.
CLOSED CASE REPORT
A total of 94 cases were “closed” during this school year (2006-07). A summary of the reasons for case closings is as follows:
Student moved: (44) 47%
Student failed to improve after at least 3 months of intervention: (12) 13%
Parent declined assistance (8) 9%
We were not able to contact the student (7) 7%
The student graduated (3) 3%
School requested the case to be closed (1) 1%
Student dropped out (12) 13%*
Student was non- membered (7) 7%*
*This year due to the new system for informed consent, we did not receive any referrals from the high school until late in the fall. By then we had filled our caseload with new referrals from the middle schools. We therefore created a waiting list for these new referrals, but found that when we finally had openings for these students, many had either been non-membered, dropped out, or had already determined that they would not be returning to school. We did have one student that we had worked with for many months, and who had been doing well, who decided he would rather work than go to school. That was pretty disheartening for all of us.
We ended the school year with 45 students on our waiting list, most of whom were Cambodian.
If you have any questions about our program, please feel free to contact me at any time.
Victoria Fahlberg, PhD, MPH