Truancy in schools has been a major problem for decades now. Schools, communities and the government at large have all been involved in coming up with suitable interventions to curb this menace. A number of interventions including: court based, school-based and community based interventions have found application in addressing the issue. However, the application of these various programs has yielded different results. Of these three, the Community-Based Intervention is thought to produce outstanding results. While each school as well as the community is expected to contribute to the success of truancy intervention, the community has the most fundamental objective (Stogner, 2011). Building a collaborative atmosphere of learners is entirely depended on the society; the community of individuals in which the learners dwell. Thus, this term paper seeks to promote the benefits of using a Community Based-Program in dealing with Truancy.
Community Based Intervention Program
A community based program is composed of a team of fellows in the community. They could include psychologists, workers in public health, social workers, economic assistance employee along with members of organizations in the community. The basic role of members of taking part in the program is to make informed decisions on how to deal with truancy in schools. Truancy is a problem which is rooted more in the community than the school might actually be found to cause. Thus, any decisions made involve the active participation of a wide variety of the community members: educators, parents, Judges of the family and juvenile courts as well as religious organizations, social service and community representatives. The community based program puts together all forces which are concerned with the welfare of the society. Community success in preventing truancy has further put in place a comprehensive approach that emphasizes on sanctions and incentives for parents and the concerned truants. Such a process does not focus on improving procedures alone. Accurate tracking of the attendance of the students has not been found the most efficacious way of dealing with truancy.
Key Elements of the Program
Parents should take part actively in all activities of preventing truancy. Guardians and parents play very crucial role in their children’s education. This is expected of every family irrespective of the station of the parent in life, what they earn or the background of education. There can never be a better influence that that which the parent commands in making sure that the child attends school daily. The parent plays a good role in educating the child on how education is used to define the future. Therefore, families as the basic units in the community must propagate mutual communication and trust with schools. This helps in providing intensive counseling, monitoring and other services that strengthen families and truants. Being friendly to the family can thus help schools fight truancy. Making regular contacts between parents and teachers is a prudent measure in dealing with truancy. Schools therefore should engage and fixing convenient periods and neutral settings for meetings with parents, establishing homework hotlines, hiring a parent liaison and taking into account the voice of the parents in making decisions for the school (Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau, 2000).
- Firm Sanctions For Truants
The community based program works together with the schools to ensure that there is a firm sanction faced by students for truancy. The community and the school districts must communicate to their learners that there is zero tolerance for truancy. It has been found out by legislatures of the State that truancy can be reduced through linking grades of the student. Curfews have helped during school hours in daytime that permit the community law enforcers to interrogate youth to establish if the are absent from school legitimately. In places like New York, a number of unexcused absences can translate to failure in courses.
- Consequential Incentives for Parental Responsibility
A community based program creates a very significant incentive for parental responsibility. Thus, communities should establish the best approach of creating such incentives hence ensuring that the children attend school without failure. Parents can even be asked to take part in programs of parenting education. The community may even find out the parents who are reluctant in dealing with truancy and sanction them. This could even make such parents lose the right to assistance meant for the public. This has taken place in States like Oklahoma and Maryland. Positive incentives for parents found responsible who promote the regular attendance of the child in school can also be offered. The incentives could be increased right to take part in programs funded by the public (Baker et al., 2001). Working together, parents, educators and local officials can make a united and strong commitment in assuming responsibility for curbing truancy. These categories of people can actually decide on the incentives that lead to the most sense of their people and the community at its best.
- Establishing Lasting Truancy Intervention Programs in Schools
The community is also expected to go an extra mile in establishing and supporting lasting school programs to prevent truancy. Truancy can be as a result of factors like violence, drug abuse, influence from truant associates, absence of support from the family, mental and emotional problems, the absence of a defined education path or the incapacitation to match the academic pace requirements (Stogner, 2011). The community thus helps schools to deal with the particular needs of every child and think of establishing initiatives dealing with the main causes of truancy like programs of tutoring, added measures of security, initiatives of drug prevention, efforts of mentorship assisted by religious groups, campaigns involving all the stakeholders in the education of the child and referrals to agencies of social services. Schools must in addition come up with new approaches of engaging students in the learning process. This should also include hands-on choices as school-to-work chances, career academics and service to the community. Local leaders of the community and business leaders should be enlisted to aid in establishing the most efficacious ways to deter and curb truancy. For instance, community and business leaders could lend support through offering space to host temporary centers of detention, establishing service projects of the community that amount to either weekend jobs or after school jobs. It may even be the development of software meant to track truants (Baker and Jansen, 2000).
- Community Law Enforcers
Enforcing policies of school attendance would require the officials in schools to establish close connections with the police in the community, probation officers and official of the family and juvenile court. Departments of the police have advocated for detention centers run temporary by the community where truant youth can be dropped instead of taking them to the local stations of police where the process is thought to consume a lot of time during processing (Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau, 2000).
The main element that the community based program is meant to address is children absenteeism from school. Well, this is the primary objective of the program even though it may go a long way in dealing with other issues. Creating a harmonious community can be realized through the development of a collaborative atmosphere of learners. Therefore, this program is expected to save entire community from other delinquent acts: drug abuse, fraudulent activities and other acts of felony (Baker et al., 2001).
Statistical Account of Community Based Programs
There is empirical statistical evidence that supports the success of the community based program agency in dealing with truancy. With issues emanating from absenteeism, a lot of communities and schools in the United States of America have provided solutions that place the responsibility of main societal components: students, schools, parents and the community. According to the Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau (2000), parents are to a greater extent to be held responsible for the truancy and absenteeism of the students. Systems of schools that have encountered some level of success in curbing down truancy rates have had some common characteristics. Initially, their policies of attendance are enforced and strict and in most cases supported by the community programs. Students and parents are held responsible for absences with very robust sanctions when compliance is not realized. Again, early truancy interventions like counseling make an effort to deter continued absenteeism patterns. These have been successful in a number of schools together (Baker and Jansen, 2000).
For instance, in a Midwest community, members of the faculty established a committee to reform the policy of attendance. The outcome was stricter enforcement, a suspension made in-house on the mornings of Saturdays, absence verification and strong efforts to notify guardians and parents when students recorded 10 days’ absence. There was a 65% fall in absenteeism and 78% fall in truancy. This was realized after engaging the community in establishing the unexcused absenteeism. The implementation of such stricter policies needed enough information before any decision could be arrived at. Thus, the components of the society which included the students, parents and the community aided in the process. Another initiative of holding truants until they were picked by parents saw a14% decrease in absenteeism and further to about 12% on continued application of the community based program (Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau, 2000).
Effectiveness of Community Based Programs
Community Based Programs in Truancy Intervention plays a proactive role compared to other programs. The community based programs lays down strategies involving the active participation of all stakeholders in promoting the prevention of truancy and absenteeism. Dealing with truancy is too sensitive to be left in hands of the school or may be the law enforcement officials alone. The most efficacious way to deal with truancy is an approach that tries to find a solution by helping the truant in the most profitable way. Such a program must offer some kind of “rehabilitation” that seeks to correct such behavior. Punitive measures alone cannot suffice. Giving proper guidance, counseling as well as good disciplinary measures work best in correcting the behavior of the truant. Thus, the community based program which involves the participation of the society components is an amicable solution to truancy. Including loses of eligibility in taking part in public and communal assistance is a great approach which puts every person on their toes to avoid such punishment (Stogner, 2011). Therefore, community based programs are of great applicability in dealing with truancy.
Impacts of Societal Factors
Changing the local truancy community culture needed a number of major changes in process and ideology. The initial change was to develop a good system where the community based program could be handled without interfering with the already existing justice system of juveniles (Baker et al., 2001). All the same, the system is expected to assign suitable sanctions to a new class of juvenile offenders; truants. This aim was partially attained through the incorporation of the law enforcement arm to control the limits with which the program would operate. Otherwise, operation without making reference to the law would be catastrophic and a breach of the societal law; the fabric that holds the society in one piece. Other issues would be stabilizing truant juveniles in an educational setting and progression deterrence in the juvenile justice system. An effective community based program would require a close scrutiny of these factors to avoid conflict of justice. It is also very important so that the cases do not fall through any kind of “cracks” along the system. Maintaining legal identity is one thing that counts a lot in the process. A prescribed action plan is thus imperative if the community based program is to be functional and legal in all aspects. Thus, all legal forms must be designed and constructed to facilitate filing and hearing of cases (Baker et al., 2001). All the same, the total effect of all the changes that were implemented and initially designed would that truancy will at some places never be shuffled off into anonymity as a “trivial” offense which does not need attention as is the case with serious phenomenon.
The process of truancy intervention starts with local schools. Therefore, parents and children are expected to attend meetings which are mandatory the moment a predetermined number of unexcused absences have been realized. The impact is felt through the main purpose of clarifying the regulations governing truancy, the consequences of perpetual truancy, and the suggestions to the whole family on the need to promote attendance. Therefore, with these factors, the process is expected to go through some checks before it can be fully adopted in a given community. The success of the program is entirely depended on the mutual understanding between the members of the society. This more in particular the school and the general community mass. Any conflict between the societal factors would destabilize the process and create flaws thus making it ineffective.
Technological advancements of the program are likely to make it more successful. Thus, it is amazing how many systems in schools despite a lot of emphasis do not make use of technology. Technology could work on well in advancing the solution to tracking and prevention of chronic truancy. For instance, IBM has developed a program which can be used for this same purpose. These IBM systems can be used to collect data at a given point in time and the information retrieved later for record keeping. The system can also be used to keep track of events happening at a given time and be used to make clear informed decisions. Technology could thus make the program better as it would help in providing records where necessary and avoid raising unnecessary questions in the effort of establishing the truth. It brings to light chronic truancy problems while tracing patterns through data mining. The kind of programming brought about by technology could provide a systematic way of sending reports automatically. This prevents any human interference which could flaw the process (Williams, n.d).
The use of community based program in dealing with truancy is a multifaceted concept that provides a robust solution. The efforts seen with a community based program together with its benefits goes far much beyond what is achieved in school based programs and law enforcement and/or federal models. The high rates of truancy cannot be handled by programs established by the school. The parents and other members of the society have a big role to play in ensuring that students attend school fully without unexcused absences. Thus, this paper offers some discussion that highlights the importance of community based program as a most efficacious approach in truancy intervention. The efforts realized in programs involving the components of the society produce overwhelming results. They count a lot in dealing with truancy and/or absenteeism.