learn / 2015

Engaging Parents to Reduce Truancy Rates

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Para Los Niños

Truancy is defined as a student being absent or tardy by more than 30 minutes without a valid excuse on 3 occasions in a school year, and we intend to reduce the truancy rate by 10% at our two charter schools that operate in Skid Row. We propose a three-pronged collaborative approach to addressing chronic absence and truancy: 1) changes in school attendance practices; 2) home visitation; and 3) parent engagement and leadership opportunities for our enrolled families.


In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • East LA
  • South LA
  • City of Los Angeles

How do you plan to use these resources to make change?

  • Engage residents and stakeholders
  • Expand a pilot or a program

How will your proposal improve the following “Learn” metrics?

  • Truancy rates in elementary and middle schools (Dream Metric)

Describe in greater detail how you will make LA the best place to learn.

Para Los Niños works to close the achievement gap for children living in poverty through an educational approach that integrates high quality academics, family and mental health supports, and community engagement and leadership opportunities for parents.

The majority of children we serve are being raised by single mothers, grandparents or other family members, with an average annual income of $15-20K. The average truancy rate across our two charter schools located in the Skid Row community is 25%. 75% of the children are English language learners; over 90% are Hispanic, 9% are African American, and the rest consist of other ethnic minorities. 14% of families are linguistically isolated, nearly double the rate for Los Angeles County, and 50% of parents of our charter school students report middle school as their highest educational level attained.

School attendance practices will provide parents access to school information on attendance behavior policies, and access to positive reinforcement for attendance behavior efforts. School policies will include: orientations for parents on school policies and expectations for student attendance and on-time arrival; contact people for parents to connect with when there are challenges getting their children to school; student rewards for improved attendance; and use of data to identify who is at risk of poor attendance and then working with the family to develop attendance plans for children missing too much school.

Home visitation will provide schools access to additional information about a child’s home environment that may be impacting attendance. Home visitation will also help families access a trusted and supportive relationship with a school faculty member.

Parent engagement opportunities will provide parents access to more accessible and practical spaces to get involved in their children’s education and to learn about the importance of regular school attendance and how truancy can negatively impact their children long-term. Parent leaders will be trained to facilitate peer groups where families share resources and information with one another.

Expected outcomes for this proposed project will include not only reduced truancy rates at two charter schools in Skid Row, but also the development of a parent leadership network throughout East Los Angeles, South Los Angeles and other areas of Los Angeles where many of our families reside or access resources.

Please explain how you will evaluate your work.

1) School staff and school parents will complete a short questionnaire to inform development of an inventory of root causes of truancy at our schools. 2) We will create action plans collaboratively with school and parent leaders to develop strategies that respond to the identified causes. 3) Parents and school staff will fill out satisfaction questionnaires at the end of the school year, with questions focused on their respective experiences with rolling out and collaborating on the school truancy policies. 4) Parents who receive home visitation will receive pre and post assessments around a series of areas related to family stability, supports from others, and senses of efficacy as parents. 5) Parents in the engagement and leadership groups will complete pre- and post- surveys designed to measure knowledge, attitudinal, and behavioral growth around factors contributing to student truancy. 6) Compare baseline truancy rates with rates after one year of implementing this program.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money (financial capital)
  • Education/training
  • Technical infrastructure (computers, etc.)
  • Community outreach
  • Network/relationship support