How to use this toolkit

Early and Often is designed to provide you with ideas and materials to help children and families develop strong attendance routines from the outset of schooling. Our recommendations are research-based, data driven, and reflect strategies that have been found effective in early education programs around the country.  Our data tools and system of analysis make gathering and using data manageable and help you target your efforts effectively. 

Our strategies recognize that getting children to school every day on time is contingent on engaging families and helping them understand the importance of regular attendance and how missing too many days impacts their child’s academic achievement. 

We’ve found that a three-tiered system of intervention can make addressing chronic absence more manageable. Throughout this toolkit you’ll find strategies and resources to help you address each tier—from prevention and awareness to early intervention activities—that help educators address challenges faced by families with students missing 10 percent or more of the school year.

Attendance Works - Three Tiered System of Intervention

Tier 1 uses universal strategies to improve awareness about chronic absence for all children and families. Everyone from the bus driver to the office staff to the director, teachers, social and health services staff have a role in creating a warm welcome. And everyone has opportunities to celebrate improved attendance.  

In Tier 2, educators and staff reach out to families with children who miss 10-19 percent of school days (as little as two days per month), to identify and help parents address barriers to strong attendance such as transportation difficulties or an unmanaged health condition.  

The strategies in Tier 3 are for families with students who miss 20 percent or more of school days. The strategies are similar to those in Tier 1 and 2, but the level of intervention and support is intensified. In addition, families with students at this level of chronic absence may require support and intervention from community agencies and services. 

A quick review of the toolkit will orient you to research and approaches that have worked for others.  It is a problem-solving resource to be used “early and often” as you nurture a positive culture of attendance. When you invent a strategy that works well, we hope you’ll share the information. We’re happy to acknowledge your work as we all learn together. 

We salute your commitment to this important work! Let us know how we can help.

Early childhood programs can develop a culture of attendance by:
  • Welcoming and engaging children and families as they enter school.

  • Providing high visibility for attendance through messaging and engagement.

  • Providing high visibility for attendance through messaging and engagement.

  • Noticing when absences, particularly those for health reason, are adding up and addressing the issue early and in a supportive manner.