During the 2017-2018 school year, the Arkansas Community Foundation provided mini-grants to seven schools to enhance ongoing or new efforts to reduce chronic absence that are a part of a school’s or district’s overall chronic absence reduction plan.
Monitor Elementary School in Springdale, Ark. has been tackling chronic absence since 2013 by developing a series of positive, culturally sensitive interactions for its predominantly Latino and Marshallese students. During the 2017-2018 school year, the mini grant enabled the school to address a growing issue that school administrators noticed when following up with families whose children were called in absent – health issues. They found that many families did not have thermometers so were guessing when students might have a fever and unattended cuts were going uncared for and turning into worse infections.
At the beginning of this school year, the school will distribute "First Aid Kits" to ALL Kindergarten families. These kits include band-aids, anti-bacterial cream, disposable thermometers, and a magnet with visuals of what constitutes a child to stay home. Monitory Elementary will continue following up with families through text messages, phone calls and home visits, educating families through kindergarten orientation about attendance policies and guidance on when to keep kids home and emphasizing the importance of immunizations and the kindergarten physical.
During the 20-17-2018 school year, Monitor Elementary held steady at 15 percent for its school-wide chronic absence rate. Monitor Elementary continues to educate families and eliminate barriers that keep students from attending regularly.