For more information see our Tools for Health Care Providers.
Especially given the role that illness plays in contributing to school absences, health providers have an important role in ensuring students do not miss school unnecessarily because of chronic illness or lack of access to health care. What you do can make a big difference in whether students show up for class ready to learn. Read this handout to learn why health care providers should care about attendance and what you can do. You can:
- Partner with schools and early childhood programs to ensure children and families get access to health insurance and services that address their physical and behavioral health needs.
- Educate families and students about the importance of school attendance and avoiding absence unless a child is truly ill.
- Work with school staff to reach out to chronically absent students and their families to identify and address barriers to attendance, especially since a health professional can contact families with little stigma. If possible, conduct home visits which are especially effective for creating rapport and finding out the challenges to getting to school.
- Collaborate with schools and school nurses to screen and assess the level of unmet physical and mental health needs among students and use the results to help forge partnerships with providers to address the most significant issues.
Read this policy brief on attendance from UCLA’s Center for Mental Health in Schools