GRADD Prevention Program has a 91% success rate of increasing attendance in Kentucky schools

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OWENSBORO, Ky. (WEHT) Kentucky students are back in the classroom after Labor Day Weekend, and an Owensboro-based program that started a few years ago to help some from becoming truant, is expanding to other districts. It’s helping more students and their parents.

Students at Meadow Lands Elementary were back at their desks and in the hallways after their three-day weekend. Principal Kevin Lowe says some students in the past had trouble attending every day.

“That could be anything from things going on with their families to health issues, to personal issues, or just not wanting to come to school in general,” he recalled.

Meadow Lands was one of three Owensboro and Daviess County schools that joined GRADD’s program that tackled student educational neglect three years ago. The program has expanded to include all elementary schools in the DCPS District, three elementary schools in the OPS District, and this year has added the elementary schools of the McLean County Public Schools District.

The program had a 91% success rate last school year. This means only a handful of the families served were referred to child protective services. The program includes meeting with parents to address the root of students missing school, and fix them.

“We may see that if there’s some behavioral concerns, that us offering families in home services can help with that. It could be as simple as working with them on morning routine,” said Kristy James of GRADD.

In 2018 the Green River Area Development District was given a grant to help kids overcome obstacles and prevent referrals to Child Protective Services when a child, 5 to 11 years old, has missed several days of school without an acceptable excuse. The prevention program is a collaborative partnership between GRADD, DCBS/CPS, and school districts.

“We saw a great change in our students that were referred for that program. A lot more students involved in coming, or if they did have to miss for any reasons, the parents were right on board for why they were missing,” Lowe said.

James says they want to reach up to 250 families this school year, after helping 176 last year and looks to cover all seven counties in GRADD’s region in the future.

“We saw the need that we had in Owensboro and Daviess County, and how it was working, and the success rate of the program, and so, our agency thought this would be a great time to expand,” said James.

(This story was originally published on September 7, 2021)

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