Grant Spotlight: Truancy Prevention Project

Grant Spotlight: Truancy Prevention Project

  As adults we know the importance of a basic education. Not only does an education provide the building blocks to adulthood, but it also can have a connection to public safety. According to the Justice Policy Institute graduation rates are connected to savings on public safety spending. This means that truancy isn’t just the problem of a school or even a singular family, it’s a community problem.

Offender Victim Ministries, Inc. develops and administers programs to reconcile and transform relationships of those impacted by conflict, crime, and incarceration in our community. Each program addresses the needs of offenders and victims, actively connecting participants to other community services as needed.

One program, the Truancy Prevention Project, was a recipient of a grant in Aug. of 2023. The grant, worth $8,100, helped cover the cover the costs of the program continuing in McPherson County.

OVM, Inc aimed to help curb the rise in statewide truancy after the pandemic in 2020.

Chronic absenteeism is defined as a student that has missed 10% or more of class days.

In 2017 McPherson County had an average chronic absenteeism rate of 8%.  In 2023 that number had risen to 21.8%.

Through the county attorney referring cases. A trained OVM facilitator, parent, student, community, and school representatives can gather to discuss the individual needs and challenges of each family and offer services to address these challenges and remove barriers keeping their child(ren) out of school.  A successful Truancy NAB will conclude with an agreement signed by all parties, with time-sensitive goals to address parent, student, and/or school challenges.  OVM staff support each family to complete their goals. When the plan is completed, the County Attorney receives notice of successful program completion resulting in truancy rates decreasing in our county.

“We have an over 85% success rate in getting truant kids back into class regularly. Inviting school representatives (principals or school counselors) to meet with a facilitator, at least one parent, a trained community member, and the truant student is working.”  Kathy Neufeld, Community Justice Programming Director at OVM, said, “The facilitated conversation with all the needed people at the table together makes space and time for creative problem-solving that is specific to each student’s (and their family’s) particular challenges.”

The program is a continuation of last year, in 2023 OVM had 14 cases referred to them by the county court attorney.