Professional Student Support Staff
Addressing chronic absence most often needs a collaborative approach, and educators are not expected to address the complex needs of at risk students on their own. Many schools or districts have individuals who can help students and families address the barriers that keep students from being in school every day. Tap into the resources and supports offered by these support staff to make a greater impact in improving attendance for these vulnerable students.
In addition to teachers, who in your school building can help? Here are just a few examples.
School Secretary and School Office Staff
These individuals play 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.
Attendance Staff or Officer
Typically charged with ensuring compliance with attendance and truancy policies, these individuals can work with principals and other staff to promote and organize a more comprehensive approach to improving attendance that begins with prevention and only resorts to the courts as a last resort.
Counselors can help work with students and families with a prior or emerging pattern of chronic absence to unpack barriers to attendance and develop plans for overcoming them. They can also help schools create a more engaging and positive school climate that motivates students to show up to class every day.
If your school has a nurse or employees at a health center, they can help families assess if a student is well enough to attend class or stay home due to illness, help manage chronic health issues such as asthma, can provide access to services, and encourage families to avoid missing school for medical appointments.
Find resources for health practitioners here.
A school psychologist can help you analyze your attendance and related data at the school, group and individual student levels. They can also help assess school practices, such as school-wide positive behavior supports, and student needs (academic, social, emotional and behavioral) to help you plan your interventions strategically, within a tiered framework, and monitor their effectiveness.
If your school has a social worker, he or she can help identify barriers to attendance faced by students and families and gain access to wide variety of family supports including food, clothing, transportation and medical care.
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 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.