A New Program to Reduce Truancy: Washington DC’s Case Management Partnership Initiative

The DC Crime Policy Institute recently released an interim evaluation on a new truancy intervention program (direct download the PDF here). The program, called the Case Management Partnership Initiative (CMPI), aims to reduce truancy by connecting truant students and their families with applicable services and case management. The assumption is that by helping to alleviate the underlying issues causing truancy, such as family problems, truancy as a whole will go down.
While the program has not yet shown that it reduces truancy, CMPI has ideas on how to improve the program moving forward. Via the report:

The CMPI does not seem to be reducing truancy on a scale that would warrant expanding the program in its present form. The program is promising, but warrants modification, enhancement, and further experimentation. Among many possible modifications that might strengthen the program, this evaluation suggests several for consideration.

  • The program may be starting too late to improve the chances for improved attendance in ninth grade, and may need to start months to a year earlier.
  • The program may want to explore modifications to its eligibility criteria. This may involve additional assessments to identify key drivers of truancy before participation in the program, exploring full attendance histories (rather than prior year only), and/or targeting the program to students with a narrower range of prior truancy. Other student and family characteristics, such as academic need and performance, may also be incorporated into existing criteria.
  • Additional program components may be beneficial. For example, the program’s family focus could be supplemented with a component that focuses intensively on the student’s academic performance. Family mental health needs may also warrant increased attention.

We’ve been reporting on the link between truancy and the juvenile justice system for quite some time: the well-documented school-to-prison pipeline. Although CMPI’s DC Public Schools program hasn’t yet shown a reduction in truancy, it’s important to note that linking teens to important services has been working well. We’ll be reporting on changes in effectiveness once the followup study is posted.
See below for the list of past Reclaiming Futures stories on truancy:

juvenile-justice-system_David-BackesDavid Backes writes the Friday news roundup for Reclaiming Futures and contributes articles about juvenile justice reform and adolescent substance abuse treatment to ReclaimingFutures.org. He has a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Santa Clara University. David works as an account executive for Prichard Communications.

Updated: September 12 2012