Strategy 3: Review Available Resources

Use this deeper understanding of the attendance challenges facing your students to take stock of supports available in your school and community. Consider filling in a pyramid worksheet to map out what you can offer to your students. First, highlight the resources that you can use in your classroom for Tier 1, then think about the resources that would be most relevant to the chronically absent students with whom you are working. Keep in mind that supports should be additive. A student who is moderately chronically absent should be supported by both Tier 1- and Tier 2-level supports, whereas severely chronically absent students should benefit from all levels of support. Note what already exists as well as where you see gaps.

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Tier 3 interventions are vital for our most vulnerable students who face serious hurdles to getting to school and often may be involved in foster care or the juvenile justice system. These students may experience absences for factors beyond their control such as changes in their foster care placements and frequent out-of-school appointments due to court involvement. Educators are not expected to address these complex needs on their own. Instead, they need to know how to tap into the resources and supports offered in order to make a greater impact in improving attendance for these vulnerable students.

Fill in the pyramid with the services and /or people (school nurse, counselor, family liaisons, after-school providers, social worker, or school psychologist) who can help. Check to see if your school has a list of people and resources that are available.

Consider These Ideas About Who Can Help
  • Other caring adults at your school who know the student or family. Is there another teacher, the principal, school secretary, sports coach, band leader, afterschool program provider, bus driver, yard supervisor, etc., who can serve as a mentor by encouraging daily attendance? This person might also reach out to the student to find out what is driving his or her absences and offer support.

  • Your school’s attendance team. Your school may call this group by a different name but this is the team that coordinates efforts to reduce chronic absence. Typically, they are available to support Tier 2 and Tier 3 students.

  • Community schools coordinator. If your school is a community school, make a beeline for your community schools coordinator. He or she can help you tap into the myriad of resources from health and social services to afterschool programs. To learn more about community schools, go to the Coalition of Community Schools or AFT’s Community Schools resource page.

  • Principal and/or another high-level administrator. They can help pull in district-level resources such as those for behavioral health or supports for homeless students.

  • School social worker. If your school has a social worker, he or she can help families gain access to a wide variety of family supports including food, clothing, transportation and medical care.

  • Nurse. If your school has a nurse or employees at a health center, they can help families know when a student is too sick to attend school, help manage chronic health issues such as asthma and can provide access to services. Try these resources and tips for parents of sick children:

    How Sick is Too Sick, English and Spanish.
    Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America resources

  • Foster Youth Services Coordinator or Liaison. System-involved youth are often served by a multidisciplinary team of public and private agencies, so it is important to regularly communicate and collaborate with this team around the student’s strengths, needs and progress. The coordinator can help obtain parental and/or the Education Decision Maker’s consent to share education information with agency staff. They can also help ensure that students receive services to which they are entitled, help students maintain school stability, and ultimately, improve their attendance.

  • Government Agency Leadership, including Child Welfare Agency and Juvenile Justice Agency.

  • School counselor or another therapeutic service provider. Counselors can help individual students with issues such as anxiety or work with groups of students to resolve conflict.

  • Attendance clerk or school secretary. This person plays a key role in attendance, from ensuring accurate attendance reports are available to creating a culture of attendance by interacting in a positive manner with students and their families.

  • Site coordinator for success mentor program. If your school has a formal success mentor program, they can match students with a mentor who can encourage good attendance. Learn more about Success Mentors.

  • Parent or family liaison. Liaisons can be particularly helpful in reaching out to families who speak a language other than English.

Your school may also have partnerships with community-based organizations and agencies that can provide support. Tap into these community partners. They are often equipped to address attendance barriers that schools do not have the resources to tackle. If you are not sure who those community partners are, the attendance team, community schools coordinator or the principal should be able to help identify them.