Each year in the District of Columbia, approximately 8,500 students are truant, or chronically absent, from school. The Attendance Accountability Amendment of 2013 enacted steep requirements for schools and parents to try to reduce truancy. Access Youth has partnered with DCPS to develop and implement a program to provide early intervention to address truancy issues in four high schools: Anacostia, Ballou and Eastern. Our Truancy Prevention Program targets this problem using family mediation to develop identify and address barriers to attendance.
In this program, Access Youth uses mediation to bring together the juvenile, their parent(s)/guardian(s) and, when applicable, other school personnel, to discuss the issues contributing to the student’s truancy, and develop a plan for addressing those issues and improving the student’s attendance. After the mediation session, Access Youth conducts follow-up sessions with the juvenile and their parent to monitor and support their success in upholding the mediation agreement.
The goals of the program are to:
- Increase student attendance rates and
- Prevent them from experiencing the escalation of penalties for truancy
- Enhance their school experience and academic performance
- Reduce their likelihood of contact with the criminal justice system
The program is fully implemented at Anacostia, Ballou and Eastern high schools, where we are focused on determining what kinds of interventions are most effective at increasing student attendance.