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Tackling Truancy With Limited Resources: Replicating the Yonkers Model By Karl Bertrand, L.M.S.W. President, Program Design and Development, L.L.C. Sponsored.

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Presentation on theme: "Tackling Truancy With Limited Resources: Replicating the Yonkers Model By Karl Bertrand, L.M.S.W. President, Program Design and Development, L.L.C. Sponsored."— Presentation transcript:

1 Tackling Truancy With Limited Resources: Replicating the Yonkers Model By Karl Bertrand, L.M.S.W. President, Program Design and Development, L.L.C. Sponsored by the Westchester Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect

2 How Can We Address Chronic Truancy? Enforce the law on mandatory school attendance Use Child Protective Services’ educational neglect reporting process to: trigger an investigation and assessment of the family situation, followed when necessary by support services and/or court intervention

3 How Can We Address Chronic Truancy? The Yonkers Model: Yonkers Public Schools instituted a new educational neglect reporting process in September 2007 for grades 1-8 In two years the number of chronically truant students in the 8 targeted grades dropped by 18.6%

4 The Mount Vernon City School District Has Already Begun Replicating the Yonkers Model Mount Vernon City School District’s Goals: n Implement a new educational neglect reporting process in Mount Vernon by September n Reduce chronic truancy in the targeted grades (grades 1-8) by at least 18% within two years.

5 Overview of Proposed New Mount Vernon Educational Neglect Reporting Process 1. Report all students with 20+ unexcused or unexplained absences 2. Report them sooner (as they occur) 3. Document the educational impacts 4. Provide follow-up data when needed for CPS and Family Court 5. Target community-based support services to chronic truants referred by CPS

6 Proposed Process: Ed Neglect Reporting 1. Each month Data Processing prepares a list of all students with 20+ unexcused or unexplained absences (sorted by school) 2. Pupil Services gives each school’s list to the principal 3. The principal (or a designee) investigates to see if there is a known extenuating explanation for the absences (such as illness with an appropriate 504 plan in place) that eliminates reasonable cause to suspect educational neglect 4. When no explanation is found, the principal or his/her designee documents the educational impacts using a standard CPS report form and a new customized supplemental form 5. The principal or designee submits the reports to NYS CSR 6. The principal or designee forwards the written CPS report and supplemental form to Pupil Services and to the local CPS office

7 Proposed Process: Process Monitoring 7. Principals forward explanations to Pupil Services when absences are excused or adequately explained 8. PD&D compares the list of 20+ absences, list of accepted explanations, and list of cases reported to CPS, and compiles a list of cases that are still not addressed and forwards the list to Pupil Services 9. Pupil Services follows up with the principals on not-yet- addressed cases 10. PD&D maintains a running list of not-yet-addressed cases by school 11. The Superintendent’s office follows up when necessary with principals who do not respond to Pupil Services’ requests

8 IMPORTANT REMINDER Nothing in this policy reduces or replaces the legal responsibility of school personnel who are mandated reporters, to report suspected child abuse or neglect, including educational neglect.

9 Proposed Process: Quality Assurance 12. CPS provides a monthly count of: a) local ed neglect (EN) reports accepted by NYS, b) # of EN investigations completed by CPS, c) # of EN reports found to be “indicated”, d) comparison numbers from that date on the prior year, and e) the # of EN cases currently receiving voluntary services. 13. PD&D convenes monthly Truancy Reduction Strategy Group (TRSG) meetings to monitor performance and resolve problems 14. PD&D presents monthly aggregate statistical reports (with no personally identifying info) to the TRSG including: a) An Status Report showing year-to-date # of students with 20+ absences, # of CPS EN reports known to Pupil Services, # of cases still not addressed, # of EN reports known to CPS, # of cases still under CPS investigation, # of investigations completed, # and % of completed cases found to be indicated, with prior year comparisons. b) A school-level summary of the # of students with 20+ absences, the # of those students reported for EN, and the # of cases not yet addressed.

10 Proposed Process: Follow-Up 15. Every two weeks CPS sends Data Processing an updated list of names of students whose attendance is being monitored by CPS and/or Family Court 16. Within 2-3 days Data Processing sends CPS an updated year-to- date count of unexcused or unexplained absences for each listed student 17. CPS uses the updated lists to regularly monitor attendance and give accurate reports to Family Court when requested

11 Proposed Process: System Improvement 18. CPS will track the major factors that contribute to chronic truancy in the cases they investigate and will provide monthly reports to the Mount Vernon Community That Cares (CTC) Coalition 19. Mount Vernon’s CTC and Weed & Seed coalitions will be asked to identify community resources that can be made available to chronic truants referred by CPS 20. CPS will refer chronic truants for priority access to the identified community-based services 21. Mount Vernon’s CTC and Weed & Seed coalitions will be asked to develop new services to address the major needs identified by CPS as contributing to chronic truancy

12 Schools Don’t Have To Do This Alone Chronic Truancy is an issue that can galvanize a community DSS is a key partner - ed neglect reports must be investigated, even when resources are scarce Local juvenile crime prevention resources can be retargeted to achieve greater impact when they focus on chronic truants Community activists and faith communities will support a broad inclusive effort that stays sharply focused on this clear and easily understandable need

13 Chronic Truancy Hurts Communities Chronic Truancy is linked to: Educational Failure Increased Juvenile Crime Other Risky Teen Behaviors Child Abuse Increased Adult Crime Long-Term Poverty

14 Chronic Truancy and Educational Failure Chronic Truants are more likely to: Do poorly in school Fail to earn high school credits Drop out before graduating high school Source: OJJDP Bulletin 9/01, “Truancy Reduction: Keeping Students in School”

15 Chronic Truancy and Juvenile Crime Chronic Truancy has been linked to: Serious delinquent behavior Gang activity Substance abuse Crimes (burglary, auto theft, vandalism) Source: OJJDP Bulletin, “Truancy Reduction: Keeping Students in School”

16 Chronic Truancy and Juvenile Crime Yonkers found that students in grades 7-8 with 20+ unexcused absences in one year had a 21% chance of being arrested within 3 years. That group’s 21% three-year arrest rate was three times higher than the average rate for youth aged in Yonkers’ poorest neighborhoods. THE LESSON: communities with limited juvenile crime prevention resources can multiply their impact by focusing services on chronic truants rather than youth haphazardly recruited from poor neighborhoods. Source: Yonkers Juvenile Justice Strategy and Action Plan, Program Design and Development, LLC, 4/4/08.

17 Chronic Truancy and Risky Teen Behaviors Chronic Truancy is linked to increased: Use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs Early sexual intercourse Driving DUI or riding with a DUI driver Source: OJJDP, “Toolkit for Creating Your Own Truancy Reduction Program,” 2007.

18 Chronic Truancy Often Masks Child Abuse In 2006 NYC instituted a new educational neglect reporting system after Nixzmary Brown was found beaten to death. Nixzmary had missed 46 days of school before her family was reported for educational neglect. “What we learned from the Nixzmary case is that we want a system in place that produces a quick response to early signs that will prevent a situation from worsening,” Deputy Mayor Linda I. Gibbs Source: NY Times, “Response to Child Deaths Suggests a System Poised to Work,” 11/17/06

19 Chronic Truancy and Adult Crime Source: “Education and Public Safety,” Justice Policy Institute, 8/30/07. “A study reported in the American Economic Review on the effects of education on crime found that a one year increase in the average years of schooling completed reduces violent crime by almost 30 percent, motor vehicle theft by 20%, arson by 13 percent and burglary and larceny by about 6 percent.”

20 Chronic Truancy Builds Long-Term Poverty Adults who were chronically truant have: Lower paying jobs More reliance on welfare support Increased likelihood of living in poverty Source: OJJDP Bulletin 9/01, “Truancy Reduction: Keeping Students in School”

21 Chronic Truancy Hurts Communities Source: OJJDP, “Toolkit for Creating Your Own Truancy Reduction Program,” “Failing to earn a high school diploma is devastating for the individuals, but the negative effects of inadequate education seep throughout society. Dropouts are rarely prepared to contribute to the workforce, use more social service dollars than graduates, and require greater criminal justice expenditures than graduates.”

22 Chronic Truancy Has Long-Term Effects Adults who were chronically truant have: Increased propensity for violent behavior Poorer health and mental health Increased likelihood of incarceration Source: OJJDP Bulletin 9/01, “Truancy Reduction: Keeping Students in School”

23 Chronic Truancy Has Long-Term Effects Source: Yonkers Juvenile Justice Strategy and Action Plan, Program Design and Development, LLC, 4/4/08. “The potential long-term benefits of addressing chronic truancy, especially in early grades, are enormous. New procedures could identify and help bring early intervention services to hundreds of high-risk youth in high-risk families who would otherwise in most cases float through the system unaided until they emerged again into public view as teenage delinquents, dropouts, and criminals. The early intervention services provided will not be able to save every student or turn around every dysfunctional family, but they offer our best hope for reducing school failure, violence, drug abuse and crime in Yonkers.”

24 The Bottom Line If you care about: Helping at-risk kids Reducing crime Making sure schools succeed Protecting kids from child abuse Alleviating poverty or Strengthening your community We share a common stake in addressing chronic truancy.

25 I’m Willing To Help If you want to replicate the Yonkers model, I can help by: 1. Meeting once with your Pupil Support Service and Data Processing staff to helping you understand in more detail how to use data to drive performance. 2. Meeting once with your staff and potential community partners to strategize about how to build the community partnerships you need. This assistance is completely free. If you want more in-depth assistance, call me and let’s talk.

26 Karl Bertrand, L.M.S.W., President Program Design and Development, LLC 47 Wayside Drive White Plains, NY (914)


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