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Story Behind the Numbers: A Qualitative Evaluation of the Jacksonville, FL Truancy Reduction Demonstration Program

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2007
20 pages
This product of the evaluation of the Truancy Reduction Demonstration Program in the Duval County School District (Jacksonville, FL), first reviews the program's components, followed by discussions of the themes that emerged from interviews and focus groups that were part of the evaluation.
The program, which has been funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), has four components. A school based intervention involves a meeting of school staff and the truant's parents to address the child's unexcused absence. Another component is a non-judicial hearing at the county courthouse for parents and truant students (K-8), which can include case management. A third component consists of four truancy centers across the city for grades 6-12. Police can pick up truant students during the school day and take them to one of these truancy centers. The fourth component is a community stakeholder group composed of local residents and school representatives, which guides the set of truancy interventions. Following the description of these program components, evaluation findings are discussed from staff interviews, focus groups with family participants, and observations. Program staff believed that the focus on identification of truant students and intervention at an early age is critical for the long-term reduction in truancy. The program's ability to hold parents accountable (including jail) for their child's truancy was also viewed by staff as critical; however whether jail is a deterrent for most uncooperative parents was debatable in the interviews and focus groups. Both program staff and parents valued the school-based intervention and the link to supportive services for truant students and their parents, with parents being appreciative of their relationships with case managers. 3 references

Date Published: January 1, 2007