Community Relations/ Youth Programs
Partners Against Chronic Truancy (PACT) Program
In January 2010, the District Attorney's Office, in conjunction with the presiding judge of Juvenile Court and representatives from the Public Defender, the Department of Human Assistance, and Sacramento County school districts, organized the Partners Against Chronic Truancy program to help parents of chronic truants recognize why they must get and keep their children in school. It is well documented that truant students are usually unsupervised, often engage in criminal behavior, at risk for being victimized, less likely to seek higher education, and more likely to be underemployed. High school dropouts who are employed earn significantly less than those who have graduated and account for the vast majority of prison inmates.
Families with chronically truant students are sent a letter from the DA inviting them to attend a PACT meeting. At the meeting, a deputy district attorney, assistant public defender, a Superior Court judge, and others speak about the legal requirements of school attendance and the long term impact on a student's future of not obtaining an education. Schools also provide resources at the meeting that connect families with counseling services, mentoring programs, parenting classes, and school nurses. PACT reaches a large number of parents and students who are just starting down the path of truancy where education, outreach, mentoring, and community resources.
Schools report dramatic increases in attendance from merely sending the letter, and report significant increases in attendance from those who attend the meeting. Program costs are minimal, consisting of postage, envelopes, and employee time to print attendance records and attend the meetings. PACT speakers attend after hours and are not paid. Schools have also realized increased Average Daily Attendance funding. More importantly, kids are realizing the benefits of obtaining an education.
The Partners Against Chronic Truancy (PACT) program was honored with a 2012 National Association of Counties (NACo) Achievement Award, which recognizes county initiatives that improve government service delivery and cost efficiency, among other achievements. PACT was also recognized with a 2012 California State Association of Counties (CSAC) Merit Award, which recognizes innovative, effective and cost-saving ways to provide programs and services to citizens.