Faith Communities

Faith communities and schools, despite different missions, share a common goal: whether it’s Friday night, Sunday morning or a regular school day, they all care about preparing children for the future. Local congregations are well positioned to help because they are often the first place families turn to for support. Look for the Why Attendance Matters handout on this page, which lays out why faith communities should care about attendance and how they can encourage good attendance habits from the start of school. Below are ideas to help faith-based groups take action.

Faith communities can:

  • Build public awareness. Join with the local superintendent, mayor and others in a community-wide coalition to reduce chronic absence. See if the community is connected to the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.

  • Recognize and appreciate good and improved attendance. Support school efforts to recognize students and families who are turning the corner on attendance.

  • Encourage students to attend school regularly. Those who work directly with children, youth and families have opportunities every week to share the connection between regular attendance and academic achievement and to help families overcome barriers to good attendance.

  • Talk with parents about absenteeism. Use regular interactions with parents to talk about any problems with attendance and to share why it matters. Consider using our Family Handouts (in English, Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog and Vietnamese).

  • Volunteer in schools. Encourage congregation members to serve as attendance buddies or mentors for chronically absent students. Help organize events to recognize good and improved attendance and encourage local businesses to donate prizes as attendance incentives.

  • Work with school districts. At the planning table, bring knowledge about the needs and the resources available to help students and families struggling with health, housing or other issues.

Success Story

Rev. Larry Simmons, Pastor, Baber Memorial AME Church, Detroit, MI describes how his work with Detroit schools to improve attendance. View the webinar, Welcomed: Embracing Students, Families and Educators in the New School Year.

Research shows how attending school improves student achievement. Read this research summary for more details.