Fighting Back offers the Check, Connect, Respect program to address truancy and develop prevention strategies for our youth. In 2013, The Attorney General published the article: In School and On Track. This 158 page document paints a bleak picture for truant students in the State of California. In 2012-2013:
- 29.6% of California Students were truant.
- 83,000 students missed more than three weeks unexcused absences.
- 20,000 California Elementary students missed 36 days or more.
This costs California $1.4 Billion dollars a year in Federal funding. Factoring the impact in incarceration, lost economic productivity and tax revenue, drop outs cost California $46.4 Billion per year. In Santa Barbara County the truancy rate was 13.6% for 2012-2013.
The report goes on to say that truancy and chronic absenteeism have long been considered serious risk factors for juvenile delinquency. This risk begins in elementary school. Truancy is considered an “early warning sign” that a young person will become a juvenile delinquent by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. And truancy is correlated with substance abuse, gang involvement, and other criminal activity. Likewise, the California Department of Education identified truancy as the single most powerful predictor of juvenile delinquent behavior.
Our Check, Connect, Respect program primarily focuses on elementary and junior high students with a goal of encouraging students to understand the importance of staying in school and completing their education. Our five Program Specialists serve four Jr. High’s in Santa Maria and 15 elementary schools. We have one Program Specialist assigned to the seven Orcutt Elementary Schools. The Program Specialists start their days by checking the attendance of their caseload then after making sure the students are at school the Specialists report to their assigned school sites to work with referred students. The student working with the mentor learns problem solving skills, social emotional regulation and how to be successful in school. The Specialists partner with parents as they try and achieve the goal of getting the student to school on time every day. Many times the Specialists will work at the home of the student to help problem solve truancy and tardiness.
For more information about the Check, Connect, Respect program, please email Dawnette.
SARB – Student Attendance Review Board
Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley is a member of the District Attorney’s Student Attendance Review Board, SARB. Fighting Back also provides administrative support to the Santa Maria SARB. The SARB is made up of members from the District Attorney’s office, Child Welfare Services, Alcohol Drug and Mental Health Services, Grizzly Academy, Teen Court, Santa Maria Youth and Families, Santa Maria Police Department, Santa Barbara Department of Probation, Santa Barbara Sheriff’s, Santa Maria Joint Union High School District, and Santa Maria Bonita Union School District. The SARB follows the District Attorney’s Community Leadership in Achieving Student Success, CLASS program. This collaborative effort focus in on getting every student in Santa Maria to school every day and on time.