Youth court launches truancy program to reduce chronic absenteeism

Published: Aug. 12, 2021 at 8:54 AM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The Hinds County Youth Court wants to make sure students start the new school year on the right track.

At the end of last year, Child Protective Services received over 100 referrals for chronic absenteeism.

Some students missed around 140-160 days of school, Judge Carlyn Hicks said, which is challenging to correct.

The youth court wants to address those challenges through a truancy early intervention program.

Hicks said when she looked at data and social profiles of young people who commit adult crimes in the Jackson area, she noticed a trend in kids dropping out at middle school. As a result, they’re focused on middle school attendance and getting to the root cause of why they aren’t going to class.

Here’s how the new program works.

On the 18th day of being absent, the school districts will notify the truancy liaison for the court. They aren’t truancy officers, so that they will subpoena parents, but they will reach out.

“The schools will still have the process they follow for truancy,” Hicks said. “We’re just asking that as they do that process, they also alert the youth court by way of truancy liaison and that person will be in contact with the family and child and we will get our counselors involved in how we can assist those children or get child protective services involved to see how we can provide resources to those kids.”

Hicks said everyone is welcome and has the same goal: to keep kids engaged.

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