Parents Matter. Attendance Works.
Through a partnership with AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) and with help from the Louisville PAL Coalition (PAL stands for three Louisville neighborhoods: Park Hill, Algonquin and Old Louisville) youth group, Metro United Way set a goal to improve parent involvement and attendance in three Louisville neighborhoods. Because we know that missing just two days per month (10% of the school year) can put kids behind and off track for graduation!
More than 400 yard signs were placed in these Park Hill, Algonquin and Old Louisville neighborhoods with an invaluable message: Parents Matter. Attendance Works. Refrigerator magnets with a similar message went home to every student at specific schools with a phone number to encourage parents to alert the school when they knew their child would be absent. In addition to this, community conversations and Parent Cafés brought community residents together, peer-to-peer, to discuss the issues parents wanted to talk about.
In the targeted neighborhoods, those messages were heard loud and clear. At Olmsted Academy South Middle School, over the course of the 2014 school year, there were 10% lower unexcused absences, an increase in interventions for unexcused absences, a 10% increase in returns of signed student report cards and improved use of Louisville Linked and Metro United Way's 2-1-1 help referral service for family services.
When parents are in touch with their child's school and assume responsibility for unexcused absences, it leads to an increase in the child's overall attendance and performance in class. We know that when families and neighborhoods engage in education, our kids are better prepared for school, have higher academic achievement, better social skills and increased likelihood of high school graduation.