Through a partnership with the Philadelphia Department of Human Services, LCFS will provide direct case management services to families in order to provide more accessible local solutions and resources to them and their children. They will also develop connections to formal and informal neighborhood networks. The goal is to strengthen and stabilize families, as well as recruit and retain foster and adoptive parents in the neighborhoods where the truant children reside.
“The barriers to attendance are often complex and multifaceted. LCFS brings extensive case management expertise to assist families who are experiencing a wide range of issues,” says Janet Panning, Program Director, Lutheran Children and Family Service. “Some examples of circumstances that the students may be experiencing include bullying, language barriers, trauma, mental health or substance abuse, or possible misdiagnosed learning issues that require advocacy with the school district to overcome.”
The Lower Northeast includes the Mayfair and Frankford neighborhoods, the third fastest-growing district in the city, which is experiencing rapid population expansion due to increasing household sizes and greater numbers of children and youth. From 1990-2010, the percentage of the population under the age of 20 grew from 26% to nearly 35%. These neighborhoods have also seen a significant increase in poverty; currently one in four residents in the Lower Northeast lives below the poverty level. This region of the city also ranks highest in violent crime with over 1650 incidents in the last year. These important demographic factors have a direct impact on the success of students and their families.
According to the Department of Human Services, last year 22% of students in these neighborhoods had five or more unexcused absences from school. Chronic absenteeism is an important indicator related directly to a child’s overall success in school and the community. Research has shown that these students are at much higher risk for juvenile delinquency, drug/alcohol use, teen pregnancy, and school dropout.
LCFS’ program will be comprised of 10 case managers and two supervisors, and will initially focus on six schools with students in kindergarten through high school that have high incidences of truancy or unexcused student absences. LCFS anticipates serving 1000 families each year in this program.
Other LCFS positive youth development programs, including the BOOST out-of-school-time program, are also engaging pre-truant students with caring adults and are making a positive impact on their long-term academic success.
It is Liberty’s hope that by providing guidance to students who are truant, they will be equipped to have a brighter future.
For more information on the Truancy Intervention and Prevention Program, contact Janet Panning at 215-456-5700, ext. 221 or [email protected]