Call Home When a Mentee Misses School

On days where the mentee is absent from school, the mentor should try to make a personal call home. Many schools use robocalls for this purpose, but the personal call is so important. And the tone of this call mirrors the tone of the morning meet and greet. “Hi Ms./Mr. ____ . I’m calling because (child’s name) isn’t here today at school and we miss her/him. Is everything OK?”

Mentors sometimes get frustrated when the phone numbers they have for their mentees are incorrect or out of service. But it’s important not to give up. To secure a working phone number, try asking the student’s friends, or checking family phone numbers listed on free and reduced lunch applications, student emergency cards or field trip permission forms.

If absences continue to accumulate or the mentor is concerned that there is a more serious challenge taking place, the mentor should reach out to the site coordinator overseeing the success mentor program and ideally, enlist the help of a school social worker or administrator through the team overseeing the success mentor program. The team can coordinate outreach to the family in an even more personalized manner. This type of more intensive intervention, however, should if at all possible occur only after there has been initial relationship building with the family.

  • Attendance Works suggests using an approach that emphasizes taking time to build a relationship to a student and their family before trying to engage them in problem solving around reducing absences. It recommends the following process: Learn, Share, Inform, Discuss, Ask and Arrive at a Plan.

Tips for Calling Home
  • Develop data and procedures to ensure that every absent student gets a call that day.

  • Set a positive tone, at the beginning of the call, by saying something positive about the child.

  • Be available to listen if the parent wants to talk about challenges and be ready with some suggestions.

  • Thank parents for their (expected) effort in helping their child come to school, on time, every day.

  • Be prepared to respond to the type of answers parents may give for the child’s absence, such as “He’s sick.”