Learn about strategies programs can use to work with key stakeholders to promote regular attendance. These strategies and guiding questions will help grantees develop policies around program attendance.
Building from a Strong Foundation
An effective attendance strategy is multi-faceted and comprehensive, using data to monitor attendance at both the child and program level. Data is used to identify factors contributing to absences and address barriers that prevent consistent attendance. Staff understand the importance of consistent attendance and their role in supporting families. They have the skills and resources to work with all families, including those facing complex challenges. Services are provided in a warm and welcoming environment, with a focus on relationship-building. Program leadership conveys the value of consistent attendance to staff and families.
Did you know?
Children who are chronically absent do not receive the full benefits of a quality early childhood experience. Children from low-income families are more likely to be chronically absent in the early grades and less likely to have access to needed resources to make up for missed time in school. Establishing good early attendance habits supports children's learning and leads to success in school and in life. Head Start programs have the opportunity to improve attendance rates and support children's future success.
Research shows that missing 10% of the school year, or about 18 days, negatively affects a student's academic performance. That's just two days a month and considered a chronic absence.
A Systems Perspective
Questions to consider:
How does your program's community assessment identify barriers to regular attendance? Barriers may include conditions such as lack of transportation, poor housing, or unsafe neighborhoods.
How do findings from your program's community assessment inform program planning and service system design? Does program planning address gaps in services and barriers to care? Does it identify available resources?
How is your program's data and evaluation system used to monitor attendance trends and barriers? These may occur at the child, family, or community level. What kinds of data does your program collect on chronically absent children?
How does your program's communication system share its attendance policies and make them accessible to all families? How does the program communicate the importance of regular attendance? Is it emphasized regularly?
How does your program's training and professional development system teach staff to share the benefits of regular attendance with diverse families? Does it help staff identify and address unique barriers to regular attendance?
How does your program assess how transportation needs impact attendance? Has your program considered specific ways to address these needs?
How does your program make sure facilities are welcoming to all cultures and backgrounds? Do diverse families see their languages and lifestyles visually represented? Are the learning environments accessible to children of all abilities?
Planning for Continuous Improvement
Attendance improvement strategies, both individual and program-wide, are developed, monitored, and evaluated. The resulting data is used for future planning. Programs use data for understanding the reasons behind inconsistent attendance. Staff have the resources and support they need to work with all families in a non-biased and accepting manner. The program engages families in their understanding of how consistent attendance supports children's learning and describes how attendance directly impacts children's success in school years and in life. Partnerships with community agencies provide resources to engage families and remove attendance barriers.
Resource Type: Publication
National Centers: Program Management and Fiscal Operations
Last Updated: March 10, 2023