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Truancy Workgroup Members. Co-Chairs – Honorable John Kuhn & Cynthia Stoltz, Esq. Members: Courts Common Pleas Judges, MDJs, Hearing Officers, Court Administrators Child Welfare DPW, CYF Administrators, Managers, Social Workers

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Truancy workgroup members
Truancy Workgroup Members

Co-Chairs – Honorable John Kuhn & Cynthia Stoltz, Esq.


Courts Common Pleas Judges, MDJs, Hearing Officers, Court Administrators

Child Welfare DPW, CYF Administrators, Managers, Social Workers

Education PDE, PASA, PSBA, PAESSP, High School

Principals, Education Law Center

Juvenile Justice JCJC, Chief’s Association, PCCD

Workgroup charge
Workgroup Charge

  • Gather information about critical systemic issues in PA regarding truancy

  • Identify nationally recognized and PA truancy best practices

  • Outline an approach and a series of recommendations for reducing truancy in PA

Mission and guiding principles for pennsylvania s dependency system
Mission and Guiding Principles for Pennsylvania’s Dependency System

Pennsylvania’s child dependency system shall:

  • Protect children who are habitually and without justification truant from school.

  • Support the educational needs of all dependent children.

  • Support families by stressing the importance of formal education for the child.

  • Educate families in parenting and life skills.

  • Identify all possible practices and strategies that address the needs of a child and family and encourage solutions which do not require court intervention.

  • Utilize the Children’s Roundtable Initiative as a mechanism for local and statewide communication, decision making and leadership.

  • Ensure strong and responsible leadershipfrom all facets of the dependency system, beginning with our courts.

Pa truancy efforts
PA Truancy Efforts Dependency System

  • PA Attorney General’s Safety Action Plan Truancy Committee (2000)

  • Statewide Truancy Task Force on School Attendance and Truancy Reduction (2004)

  • Special Court Judges Association Truancy Workgroup (2007)

Statewide truancy task force
Statewide Truancy Task Force Dependency System

  • PA Truancy Toolkit

  • Basic Education Circular (BEC) – Compulsory Attendance and Truancy Elimination Plan

Limitations on existing truancy data
Limitations on Existing Truancy Data Dependency System

  • No national truancy data exists

  • Education truancy data is self reported by school districts

  • Court data is limited to summary citations filed with the magisterial district courts

  • Do not capture the number of children who are dependent and truant or delinquent and truant

Truant students personal characteristics
Truant Students Personal Characteristics* Dependency System

  • Academic failure

  • Poor social and emotional functioning

  • Ethnic or racial diversity

  • Health problems

  • Inability to feel part of the ‘school culture’

*Washington State Institute for Public Policy

Causes of truancy
Causes of Truancy Dependency System

Vary by Individual

May Include:

  • Family factors

  • School factors

  • Economic influences

  • Community factors

National findings
National Findings Dependency System

  • No national truancy data

  • Hundreds of thousands of students are absent each school day without excuse

  • Truancy is a risk factor for:

    • Academic failure

    • Health issues

    • Delinquent behavior

National dropout data
National Dropout Data Dependency System

  • 1.2 million teens between the ages of 16-19 who were not in school and had not graduated from high school in 2007*

  • Dropout ranged from 2% in North Dakota – 11% in Nevada

  • PA ranked 19th nationwide, where 6% (41,000) teens were high school dropouts

*2009 Kids Count Data Book on State Profiles of Child Well-Being

Annie E. Casey Foundation

What does truancy look like in pa
What does truancy Dependency Systemlook like in PA?

Pa truancy laws
PA Truancy Laws Dependency System

  • Compulsory School Age (no later than 8 -17)

  • School board charged with setting policies governing pupil absences and lawful excuses

  • “Habitually Truant”

  • CYS involvement under and over age 13

  • Filing against the parent or child

  • MDJ Penalties if found guilty

PA Truancy Laws (cont.) Dependency System

  • Failure to pay – certified to common pleas

  • Dependent -“Habitually and without justification truant from school”

SY 08-09 School Population Dependency System

by Gender (K-12)

SY 08-09 Habitually Truant by Gender














Sy 08 09 total school population vs total habitually truant population
SY 08-09 Total School Population vs. Dependency SystemTotal Habitually Truant Population




Lrt survey results
LRT Survey Results Dependency System


truancy was an issue of concern in their county

Lrt survey results cont
LRT Survey Results Cont. Dependency System


truancy was being effectively handled

  • Stakeholder collaboration

  • Standardized protocols

  • MDJ uniforimty in handling truancy cases

  • Timely responses

Lrt survey results cont1
LRT Survey Results Cont. Dependency System


truancy was not being effectively handled

  • No collaboration

  • Inconsistency in handling referrals

  • Not addressing the problem in elementary school

  • Filing MDJ citations too late in the school year

  • Not utilizing the TEP

Lrt survey results cont2
LRT Survey Results Cont. Dependency System

  • 65% do not have a cross systems truancy reduction program

  • 50% use a truancy protocol

  • 65% do not have a liaison between the school districts and the court

Lrt survey results cont3
LRT Survey Results Cont. Dependency System

  • 36% have an educational representative on their local children’s roundtable

  • Only 5 counties reported having an MDJ on their local children’s roundtable’

  • 65% indicated their was no “sense of urgency” about truancy in their community

Recommendations Dependency System

Truancy workgroup recommendation 1
Truancy Workgroup Recommendation 1 Dependency System

Demonstrate Effective Collaboration Efforts Including Sharing the Accountability and Responsibility for Truancy

Truancy Workgroup Recommendation 2 Dependency System

Create an Educational Culture/Climate that

Prioritizes Students’ Connection to their School

and Engages Families

Truancy Workgroup Recommendation 3 Dependency System

Implement Specific Strategies with Measurable Outcomes Targeting Prevention,

Early Identification and Intervention

Truancy Workgroup Recommendation 4 Dependency System

Track Truancy Data and Program Outcomes

and Share Information with Stakeholders

Truancy Workgroup Recommendation 5 Dependency System

Build Sustainable Funding Bases

and Allocate Resources Based on

Data Informed Decisions and

Partnerships that Maximize Efficiencies

Next steps
Next Steps Dependency System

  • Implementation Strategies

    • Support for communities to implement the recommendations

    • Communicate the message about the urgency of truancy

Next steps1
Next Steps Dependency System

  • Collaborate with JCJC to identify truancy laws needing clarified or altered

Next steps2
Next Steps Dependency System

3. Engage the medical community as a valued partner in addressing truancy at both the state and local levels

Next steps3
Next Steps Dependency System

4. Explore possible surveys and other tools that communities can utilize to assess local truancy issues

5 things local children s roundtables can do
5 Things Local Children’s Roundtables can do Dependency System

  • Read the Report

  • Review your County’s School Truancy Data

  • Bring the Information back to the Local Children’s Roundtable

  • Start Identifying Community Stakeholders who may be Interested in discussing Truancy Issues

  • Begin a dialogue with Stakeholders

“We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say, ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’ Then there are those who see the need to respond, I consider those people my heroes.”

- Fred Rogers