Solving Chronic Absence:

Information and resources for educators and community coalitions

Models for Reducing Chronic Absence

When community coalitions take the lead for reducing chronic absence...

A Community-based Model

With the community model, community coalitions assume responsibility for reducing chronic absence and work with the school districts and/or schools in their communities to ensure this happens. An example of this type of coalition is the Campaign for Grade Level Reading, which has several coalitions across the state. In other instances, non-profit organizations interested in the educational success of children have assumed this responsibility.

With Coalitions as the Lead

Many benefits result from coalitions' broad reach

Coalitions have the unique advantage of being able to disseminate messages community-wide.

Coalitions can partner with schools to provide interventions. For example, a Community Coalition funded:

    • staff development to promote the use of alternative strategies to address students' behavioral challenges and reduce the use of suspensions
    • a school-based attendance coordinator to make home visits, work with families and navigate the neighborhood to locate students not in school
    • mediation counseling so families and school staff could meet to discuss reasons for chronic absence (especially helpful in severe cases)
    • bus passes and grocery store gift cards for families whose children showed improved attendance
    • sought a donation from a manufacturer and received washing machines and dryers for the school.
    • The Local Department of Social Services (LDSS) use funds from their prevention budget to purchase 'wrap around' services.
      • In one instance, laundry detergent was purchased for families whose children were not attending school because their clothes were not clean.

Schools linkages are tied to coalitions' success

Coalition success is dependent on coalitions' relationship with districts and/or schools since the student-level efforts needed to reduce chronic absence require school involvement (e.g., recognition and rewards for improved attendance).

For example, Community Coalitions:

  • worked with local businesses to provide schools with items used as incentives (e.g., gift cards, event coupons); the incentives were given to students and parents for improved attendance.
  • gave incentives to teachers who were willing to be a "buddy" to chronically absent students (e.g., greet student throughout the day). The program expanded considerably once schools could see the improvements and were willing to take a more active role for school-based activities.

Community Coalitions need to make a collective commitment to address community challenges that impact absences.

  • For instance, what will it take for the community to improve youth employment opportunities so older students helping to support their families can get after school jobs?

Models for Reducing Chronic Absence