We all want children to have access to opportunities to succeed through a quality education. Let’s be honest – an important component of a student’s ability to succeed in school is their attendance.
In recent years, Nebraska legislators have enacted a number of bills aimed at increasing school attendance, reducing the number of students who are chronically absent, and responding to truancy. If you follow the news, you may have noticed that these changes have lately been at the center of some controversy.
Over the past few months, Voices for Children has been digging into the data on chronic absenteeism and truancy in Nebraska, as well as research from around the country on what works when it comes to making sure kids are in school and learning.
Today, we’re releasing a small issue brief that summarizes some of our key findings, in hopes that we can inform where Nebraska heads from here.
So just what did we find? Nebraska has more work to do.
While chronic absenteeism has been reduced at the statewide level, it remains very high in a number of school districts. Clearly, some districts lack the resources and practices to help kids attend school regularly.
The number of children and youth prosecuted for truancy has more than doubled since 2009. This trend is troubling, since research has shown that prosecuting status offenders (kids who skip school or run away) is counterproductive, often harming students and exposing them to the risk of inappropriate juvenile justice involvement.
So what can we do about it? Nebraska needs to invest in effective, school-based programs and services for schools and students struggling with chronic absenteeism. We also have to do what we can to limit the use of the juvenile justice system to address truancy, instead connecting youth and families to community-based services and supports.
We invite you to take a look at our issue brief and share your thoughts about what we’ve found. Are there any questions you have? Are there any suggestions you have on what more Nebraska can do to help our kids and families struggling with school attendance?