Program

Aug 07, 2003

OVERVIEW

The School Attendance Demonstration Project is a multi-component service delivery program designed to improve teens’ school attendance and help teens and their families to become independent from social welfare receipt. Services such as career counseling and employment, academic, transportation, financial and medical assistance are provided on the family and individual level. The program also features a financial incentive component that is designed to encourage (semi-)regular school attendance. Experimental evaluation of the program found that participation in the School Attendance Demonstration Project was successful in increasing attendance among participants, but did not have a significant effect on graduation rates. The program appeared to be more successful for teens with the least at-risk characteristics.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Target population: Youth who are AFDC recipients

The School Attendance Demonstration Project was designed to (a) improve school attendance among 16- to 18- year olds who are on public assistance, as TANF eligibility requires full-time enrollment in school, and (b) to help teens and their families reach independence through a multi-component service delivery approach. The program provided services that were family-centered, and it utilized both individual and group interventions to address underlying factors that were leading to student absences. Services provided included: career counseling, and assistance with employment, school placement, math skills, transportation, and financial and medical matters. The program also incorporated financial incentive for minimal levels of school attendance.

Component Provided by Duration Description
Financial incentive Welfare office Over the course of 19 months Participants were subject to a sanction if they did not attend school at least 80 percent of the time for 2 consecutive months and did not attend an orientation for services.
Multi-component service delivery SADP services unit consisting of 14 workers, including 1 MSW-level supervisor, 8 case managers, 2 income maintenance technicians, 1 undergraduate BSW intern, 1 graduate MSW intern, and a unit clerk Staff had a mean of 13.11 contacts per student Teens were assessed at time of orientation and were assigned to a case manager, if necessary. The service approach was family-centered and used individual and group interventions, combined with community resources, to address reasons why teens were not attending school. Services included meeting with school counselor, math assistance, transportation assistance, financial assistance, employment help, medical assistance, and school placement facilitation.

EVALUATION(S) OF PROGRAM

STUDY 1: Jones, L.P., Harris, R., & Finnegan, D. (2002). School Attendance Demonstration Project: An evaluation of a program to motivate public assistance teens to attend and complete school in an urban school district. Research on Social Work Practice, 12 (2), 222-237.

Evaluated population: 4,849 students in the experimental group; 2,398 students in the control group. Participants were 16- to 18-year old AFDC recipients (average age of 17.1 years) who reside in San Diego, California. Teens who were pregnant, parents, in foster care, attending private school, had graduated from high school, received a GED, or engaged in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families work activities were excluded from the program. The entire sample was tracked from February 1996 until February 1998 during the school months, for a total of 19 time periods. Sample size varied during each data collection period.

Objective:
1. To determine if students in the experimental group will attend school according to the attendance rule in greater numbers than students in the control group.
2. To determine if students in the experimental group will graduate from secondary school at a higher rate than students in the control group.
Measurement instrument:
Participants’ daily school attendance patterns were followed for up to 19 months. Data were collected from the San Diego Unified School District (attendance data, graduation status, type of school attendance) and from the San Diego County Department of Social Services (income maintenance data such as benefit amounts, sanctions, and basic demographics).
Evaluation:
Type: Experimental
Statistical techniques: Logistic regression. Multivariate model using logistic regression was used to predict graduation.
Significance level: p = .05
Outcome:
The program did not reach many of the intended recipients:
Only a small proportion of students responded to the orientation for services: 569 students attended the orientation; 1,031 ignored the orientation notice, did not improve their attendance, and were discontinued from public assistance. Another 61 teens were dropped after attending the orientation for failure to improve school attendance.
Attendance rates increased for participants who attended the orientation:
In February 1996, the probability of participants’ meeting the 80 percent rule was 2 percent higher than that of control group members, a difference that is not significant. A year later, the probability was 8 percent higher, a significant difference.

There was no impact on graduation rates:

57.5 percent of participants and 55.4 percent of the control group had graduation certificates (difference not significant).

Multivariate analysis: The program appeared to improve attendance for participants with relatively few risks:
The program was less effective for students from single-parent homes, Hispanic students, female students, students in alternative schools, students from families receiving child protective services, and probationers. Female participants were significantly less likely to meet the rule than males. Hispanics were significantly less likely to meet the rule than other racial/ethnic subgroups. Younger students may be significantly less likely to meet the rule than older students. Students with two parents were significantly more likely to graduate than students with one parent.
Other information:
All students were eligible to receive social services, but the experimental group was eligible to receive them from the SADP services unit.

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

References:

Jones, L.P., Harris, R., & Finnegan, D. (2002). School Attendance Demonstration Project: An evaluation of a program to motivate public assistance teens to attend and complete school in an urban school district. Research on Social Work Practice, 12 (2), 222-237.

Program also discussed in the following Child Trends publication(s):

Hair,
E., Ling, T., & Cochran, S. W. (2003). Youth development programs serving
educationally disadvantaged youth: A synthesis of experimental evaluations.

Washington, DC: Child Trends.

KEYWORDS: Adolescents, Youth, Co-ed, Urban, White/Caucasian, Hispanic/Latino, Counseling/Therapy

Program information last updated 8/7/03.

 

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