A new report commissioned by the Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Council’s Low-Risk High-Needs (LRHN) Committee highlights the need for increased cross-system collaboration and holistic programming to support Colorado youth with school attendance problems.

Currently, youth who have four unexcused absences in a month or ten unexcused absences in a year are considered truant, and begin a complex journey through the juvenile justice system. This creates a drain on resources for schools and courts. Youth who are detained as a result are 14.5 times less likely to graduate from high school, and are significantly more likely to commit subsequent criminal offenses.

The report gathered evidence from stakeholders and four truancy demonstration pilot programs to provide insight for ensuring Colorado youth with high social service needs receive the necessary support to gain an education. Highlights of the report include:

  • Child Welfare can better serve its function in truancy cases if brought in early to serve a preventive role.
  • Differing data requirement practices across districts and school grades (K-12) hamper early intervention and the ability to get a true understanding of effective and ineffective practices.

The report also provides a “Collaborative Framework to Improve Educational Attainment.” This stresses the importance of partnerships, prevention and intervention approaches, and sustainability in supporting Colorado youth and families in the education and justice systems. This framework, and more detail on best practices gleaned from the pilot sites are available in the full report.