Every child in school every day
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Every Child in School Every Day. Supporting Homeless Students’ Attendance through Afterschool and Other Strategies. Agenda. The Importance of Attendance Homelessness as a Barrier to Attendance Supporting Homeless Students’ Attendance Attendance Collaborative Afterschool Programs

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Every Child in School Every Day

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Every Child in School Every Day

Supporting Homeless Students’ Attendance through Afterschool

and Other Strategies


  • The Importance of Attendance

  • Homelessness as a Barrier to Attendance

  • Supporting Homeless Students’ Attendance

    • Attendance Collaborative

    • Afterschool Programs

  • Case Study

  • Group Questions

Importance ofAttendance

What do We Mean by School Attendance?

Chronic Absence is missing 10% or more school over the course of an academic year for any reason. Research shows 10% is associated with declining academic performance. No standard definition exists.Satisfactory Attendance is missing 5% or less over the course of an academic year for any reason.Truancy refers only to unexcused absences and is defined by each state, according to NCLB.Average Daily Attendance is the % of enrolled students who attend school each day.

Chronic Early Absence Adversely Affects Academics Especially for Low-income Children

Among low-income children, chronic K absence predicted lower 5th grade achievement.

Source: National Center for Children In Poverty

Poor Attendance Predicts Drop Out by 6th Grade

Source: Destination Graduation: Baltimore Education Research Consortium, February 2011

By 9th Grade, Attendance Can Predict Graduation Better than Test Scores

On Time Graduation Correlation to 9th Grade Attendance

Source: Allensworth & Easton, What Matters for Staying On-Track and Graduating in Chicago Public Schools, Consortium on Chicago School Research at U of C, July 2007

Chronic Absence

Sporadic, Not Just Consecutive, Absences Matter


New York City Schools

A 407 Alert is issued when student misses 10 consecutive days or 20 days over a 40 day period. The 407 Alert misses more sporadic absence. 1 out of 5 elementary school children were chronically absent.

Source: Nauer K et al, Strengthening Schools by Strengthening Families, Center for New York City Affairs New School, October 2008

Homelessness as a Barrier to School Attendance

Absenteeism among Homeless Students

  • 2005 Evaluation of Prince George’s County Public Schools: 87% average daily attendance among homeless students

  • 2002 DOE Study (National): 77% of homeless children attend school regularly

  • 1994 Survey of Homeless Children in (Urban/Suburban Setting): 48.5% described as absent during one-third of school days, 11.1% described as absent during one-half of school days

    Homeless students are more likely to miss school than poor, housed children.

Reasons for Absences

  • High mobility

  • Lack of transportation

    • 40% of homeless families report that lack of transportation or delay in records transfer present barriers to attendance

  • Enrollment barriers

  • Lack of uniforms – especially where failure to wear uniform results in punishment/being sent home

Reasons for Absences Cont.

  • Poor relationships

    • Relative to housed peers, fewer homeless children report having a close friend

  • Physical/mental illness

    • 1 in 7 homeless children has a severe physical condition (compared to 1 in 16 middle class children)

    • 50% suffer from mental illness

Reasons for Absences Cont.

  • Prejudice/stigma

    • Homeless students are teased at school for lack of clean clothes, poor performance  reduced attendance  drop out

  • Obstacles to parents’ involvement

  • Preoccupation with food/shelter

Strategies for Supporting Homeless Students’ Attendance

1 Baltimore Student Attendance Collaborative

  • Coalition of advocates and experts in special education, student homelessness, transportation, school safety, afterschool programming, education policy/research

  • Meet monthly to examine issues impacting student attendance, particularly attendance of vulnerable student populations

  • Report regularly and provide input to school district personnel

1 Baltimore Student Attendance Collaborative Cont.

Collaborative/Individual Projects

  • Data gathering:

    • Kindergarten/Pre-K Chronic Absence Study,

    • Rate Your Ride

    • School Climate Survey

  • Advocacy: School uniform policy

  • Outreach/awareness raising: peer outreach campaign

  • Door-knocking: School Every Day program

2 Afterschool as a Tool to Support Homeless Students’ Attendance

Research Shows Impact of Quality OST

  • 7th and 8th graders attending afterschool programs at a Boys & Girls Club skipped school fewer times, increased school effort and gained academic confidence. (2009)

  • Afterschool participants attending Pathways to Progress in Minneapolis and St. Paul came to school an average 18.4 more days than their peers. (2004)

  • Homeless students who participate in the HERO Center's afterschool program have 90% school attendance, higher than most homeless kids and consistent with the district wide average for all students. (2000)

What We Know from Field Experience

Good OST programs engage in activities that contribute to better school attendance such as:

  • Provide socialization and peer attention in a supervised venue

  • Re-establish the link between effort and results in a non-school activity

  • Engage students in challenging activities that help them develop persistence.

  • Provide consistent contact with caring, stable adults.

  • Increase a sense of belonging at school.

Obstacles to Homeless Students’ Participation in Afterschool

  • Lack of transportation

  • Shelter rules – e.g. children must be in by afternoon

  • Fees/costs

  • Enrollment deadlines

  • Grade requirements

  • Mobility

  • Need for physicals/health assessments

  • Potential bias/low expectations of families?

    • 2011: Families perceived that educators/counselors did not expect low-income parents to be as invested in children’s achievement

Facilitating Homeless Students’ Access to Afterschool

  • Recruit through school district McKinney-Vento Liaisons, at shelters, through homeless-serving agencies

  • Provide onsite meals, groceries – e.g. MD “Afterschool Supper” program reimburses afterschool programs in high FARMS areas for offering meals

  • Provide transportation

  • Conduct afterschool program onsite – e.g. in shelter (caveat: Most homeless students are not in shelter)

  • Use repeated school absences to trigger automatic referral to afterschool program - e.g. NJ HERO program

Facilitating Homeless Students Access to Afterschool Cont.

  • Waive fees and enrollment deadlines

  • Offer opportunities for play, field trips – may not be available at shelter, or other temporary residence

  • Build relationships with/seek input from homeless serving organizations, shelters

  • Include staff with socialwork skills/training

  • Train staff on needs and rights of homeless students

Case Study:

Carbon and Schuylkill SHINE

21st Century Afterschool Program

Case Study – Setting the Tone

  • Parents sign a contract – Parent Teacher Agreement and Handbook

  • No school, no SHINE

  • Build a positive relationship with parents before any attendance problems occur

  • Middle of the year letter; importance of attendance; policy reminder

Case Study – Data Collection

  • Center teachers fax weekly; entered into database for the month; teachers receive monthly reports

  • Report includes: average daily attendance and the % each child attends during the month

  • Teachers receive report cards i.e. attendance every nine weeks from schools

  • Results 2010: 88% of students were regular attendees (high % 60-90 day attendees)

Case Study – Raising the Bar

  • Initiating incentive program for students and family – based on 80% monthly attendance

  • Incentives include: family dinners, drawing for gas cards, food, board games for those families who have children that have 80% monthly attendance or higher that month

  • Students choose from SHINE treasure box – composed of books and educational materials

Case Study – Raising the Bar Cont.

  • Report includes: average daily attendance and the % each child attends during the month

  • Teachers receive report cards i.e. attendance every nine weeks from schools

  • Results 2010: 88% of students were regular attendees (high % 60-90 day attendees)

Group Questions

Group 1

  • What data does your school district collect on student attendance?

  • How can you use this data to inform policies and practices for supporting homeless students’ attendance?

  • What additional data would you want to collect?

Group 2

  • Could your district pursue afterschool enrollment as a strategy for improving homeless students’ attendance?

  • What barriers prevent homeless students from participating in existing afterschool programs?

  • What supports do they need to have better access?

  • What other strategies could you pursue to support homeless students’ attendance in your district?

Contact Information

Kacy Conley

(717) 763-1661 ext. 210

[email protected]


  • Monisha Cherayil

    • [email protected]

    • (410) 625-9409 ext 234

    • www.publicjustice.org


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