Evidence-based programs to reduce school truancy


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UCLA CTSI-Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (DHS) Projects

Principal Investigators: Raymond Perry (DHS), Tony Kuo (DPH), Lauren Gase (UCLA)

School truancy is associated with a variety of negative behavioral and health consequences. In addition, health factors may contribute to why students miss school. This project aims to gain better understanding of the characteristics and needs of truant youth in order to identify opportunities for improving school attendance in Los Angeles County. The project focuses on three research questions: 1) What are the characteristics and needs (e.g., academic, social, health) of truant youth?; 2) How do youth who cut or skip class encounter different school- community- and law-enforcement based systems?; and 3) What programs and policies can help meet the needs of truant youth? To answer these questions, we conducted key informant interviews with representatives from schools, law-enforcement, and community based organizations; in-depth interviews with youth who have school attendance problems; and a review of evidence-based diversion programs and interventions.

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Evidence-based programs to reduce school truancy

  1. 1. 1 Identifying Opportunities and Examining Evidence-Based Programs to Reduce School Truancy UCLA / DPH Principal Investigator: Tony Kuo, MD, MSHS DHS Principal Investigator: Raymond Perry, MD, MSHS UCLA / DPH Co-PI & Project Lead: Lauren Gase, MPH
  2. 2. 2 Project Background •  Juvenile Court Health Services (JCHS) provides healthcare services to all youth in facilities operated by the Probation Department. •  JCHS works closely with Probation and the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) in planning for youth's transition from camp to home •  Interest in helping ensure school attendance after release –  Project goal: address a key underlying pathway to youth (re)entering the juvenile justice system - school truancy.
  3. 3. 3 Background: School Truancy •  School truancy is associated with a variety of negative behavioral and health outcomes. –  Dropping out of school, crime, violence, incarceration, teen pregnancy, substance abuse, chronic disease. •  School truancy is a significant and persistent problem in Los Angeles County.
  4. 4. Background: Truancy Identification and “Treatment” Identification School-identified mechanisms (school- attendance review teams) Police-issued truancy citation 4 “Treatment” School attendance review board Community-based diversion program Probation diversion program
  5. 5. 5 Research Question and Aims •  How can we reduce truancy and prevent youth from (re)entering the juvenile justice system? –  Aim 1: To synthesize data about youth in Los Angeles County currently receiving truancy citations in order to clarify the ways in which these youth interact with the juvenile justice system. –  Aim 2: To identify diversion strategies to prevent youth from (re)entering the juvenile justice system. –  Aim 3: To identify dissemination strategies and use them to inform health services planning and improve the system of care for youth in probation camps.
  6. 6. 6 Methods •  Process map of pathways leading from truancy to the juvenile justice system. –  Review of programmatic data –  Key informant interviews •  Agency representative •  Truant youth • Systematic synthesis of evidence-based diversion programs and interventions.
  7. 7. 7 Timeline: Progress •  Obtained IRB approval. •  Conducted a provisional review of literature on truancy reduction programs. –  In school, community, and court settings •  Developed a draft of process map to track how truants move through current systems in Los Angeles County.
  8. 8. 8 Timeline: Next Steps •  Finalize the process map and literature synthesis (11/13). •  Conduct assessments of 1-2 current truancy reduction programs (e.g., Probation diversion program) (3/13). –  Examine relevant data from current program(s). –  Conduct key-informant interviews with administrators and youth involved in current program(s). –  Identifying recommendations for program improvement. •  Develop and disseminate products (6/13).
  9. 9. Implications & Dissemination •  Use research findings to: –  Improve truancy “prevention” in an effort to reduce the number of youth who enter the juvenile justice system. –  Identify and address unmet services needs within probation camps and other Department of Health Services (DHS) programs. –  Model the potential academic and health impacts of potential modifications to policies to reduce school truancy. •  Ex: Received funding from the Health Impact Project (Pew Charitable Trusts/RWJF) and the California Endowment. 9
  10. 10. CTSI CERP Aims •  Promote bidirectional knowledge exchanges between community and academia. •  Drive innovation in community engagement that accelerates the volume and impact of partnered research. 10
  11. 11. CTSI Funding •  Supported establishment of a new collaboration between Juvenile Court Health Services (DHS), the Division of Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention (DPH), and UCLA. •  Hire a graduate research assistant. •  Actively engage youth in the process. 11
  12. 12. 12 Thank You! Lauren Gase, MPH lgase@ph.lacounty.gov 213-427-4409 Raymond Perry, MD, MSHS rperry@dhs.lacounty.gov 323-226-8723 Tony Kuo, MD, MSHS tkuo@mednet.ucla.edu 213-351-7341