NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Everyone knows how important it is to get kids to stay in school, but that means getting them there in the first place. New Haven officials announced a new anti-truancy campaign this morning.
“Each day a child misses school is a wasted opportunity for that child to learn,” said Mayor Toni Harp.
And that is why New Haven is starting a new fight against truancy, and trying to stop truancy early, with the youngest students, which means a different approach, and different language.
“I don’t like to use the word truancy when it comes to elementary age students, because truancy goes to the student,” said Judge Thomas Brunnock, Waterbury Probate Court. “We have to address our efforts to the families.”
So after 10 absences, parents get a letter. If the absences continue, another letter, then a meeting with teachers. If nothing improves, there’s a voluntary clinic about the importance of not missing school. If that doesn’t work, then DCF may get involved.
“And often times people think of that department in the most negative way, but they also have access to a whole range of services that actually help families,” said Mayor Harp.
If that doesn’t work, then the courts may have to get involved. That’s a last resort, but a necessary part of the process if kids continue to miss school.
“That is what this collaboration is about,” Judge Brunnock said, “the courts and DCF and the educators coming together to tell families that this is important.”
And it is already underway in two New Haven schools: Strong and Quinnipiac.
“And we have seen significant increase in our attendance from last year just by educating our parents,” said Grace Nathman, Quinnipiac School Principal.