Programs across Nebraska have been working to reduce chronic absences and excessive absenteeism through targeted intervention and prevention strategies. This Guidebook is intended to assist communities in developing prevention and intervention strategies that fully address school absenteeism. In addition to outlining evidence-based responses to school absence, we looked specifically for programs that include a cultural competence component, or that have shown prior success in working with specific populations most at risk for excessive absenteeism. First, we present an overview of the risk factors for excessive absenteeism and potential negative outcomes associated with increased absences from school. In the second part of this report, we present information on current assessment strategies used in Nebraska and on the importance of matching services with level of need. Next, using data from the Nebraska Department of Education, we assess differences in attendance statewide to examine racial disparities in school attendance. The fourth part of this report measures the effectiveness of excessive absenteeism programs in Nebraska using data on school attendance prior to programming and while enrolled. The Juvenile Justice Institute (JJI) then calculated the percent change in attendance for these two time periods. For FY 2018-2019, there were a total of 21 funded programs addressing absenteeism through Communitybased Aid, the number of funded programs from 2019-2021 grew to 25. An additional five programs served youth through the diversion program. Approximately 3,120 youth participated in these programs and remained out of the juvenile justice system, for at least a short period of time. Program staff input the data needed to assess program effectiveness and should be commended for their efforts. Overall, 30 programs were able to input data sufficient for analyses (n=1,524 or 48.8%). Of those, 50% of programs (15 of the 30 programs) showed a statistically significant (p < 0.05) improvement in attendance from pre-enrollment to enrollment for those who successfully completed programming. As statewide data from the Department of Education suggest some racial/ethnic groups were more likely to be absent compared to White students, we examined if there were significantly different outcomes for successful cases by race or ethnicity. While our findings do not suggest that one racial or ethnic group improved significant more than another, without accounting for any other factors, all racial or ethnic groups reported reductions in overall absences for those who successfully completed programming. Finally, we offer recommendations for programs moving forward to help them meet the challenges they face as they work to improve school attendance. Challenges related to data collection and reporting continue to present problems for programs and analyses. Further, the COVID-19 pandemic presented additional difficulties as programs remained committed to monitoring attendance and offering intervention strategies to target excessive absenteeism during virtual schooling. Although this guidebook utilized data from pre-enrollment to enrollment, we hope to add postenrollment data in the future once more data are available. JJI remains committed to improving data collection through improvements to the JCMS and continued training for program staff.
Garman, Julie D.; Hobbs, Anne M.; Steele, Sarah A.; Wasserburger, Erin; Kotlaja, Marijana; Lockee, Aaron; and Juvenile Justice Institute, University of Nebraska at Omaha, "School Absenteeism Guidebook for Program Development and Cultural Components" (2022). Reports. 22.