Chronic absenteeism in school early on creates bad habits—and academic problems later in life. By 9th grade, missing 20% of school is a better indicator of dropping out than test scores. With data and tools from Attendance Works, United Way is helping communities, schools and families tackle the issue. Every year during Attendance Awareness Week in September, United Way Women's Leadership Councils spread the word through social networking, blogging about solutions underway and speaking out in the community.
United Way is also digging deeper into the issue to identify and address the root causes of absenteeism. In Grand Rapids, Heart of Michigan United Way joined with school districts, health, mental health and social services agencies to track chronic absenteeism. When kids started missing school, they (and their families) got help — fast. Schools involved have seen absenteeism drop and test scores rise.