Home visits helped improve student attendance in schools, new report says

Home visits help with student attendance, report says
Published: Jan. 19, 2023 at 5:54 PM EST
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HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - A new report is shedding light on how much home visits have helped students struggling with attendance.

The issue was amplified by the pandemic, but a new report from the state Department of Education is showing signs of improvement.

The program targeted 15 school districts in the state.

The effects were most noticeable in Hartford Public Schools, and efforts there continue to try and battle chronic absenteeism.

“So I have seen improved attendance, when they feel like they have a trusted adult in the building that they can reach out to as well if they have any future questions,” said Brittany Libman, Student Engagement Specialist for Hartford Public Schools.

Libman is among the staff tracking students who are struggling with attendance and finding ways to reengage them in school.

“When I go to a home visit I don’t show up empty handed. I come with an attendance tracker, I come with resources, health insurance information. So it’s also I’m bringing them information and not just checking up on them,” Libman said.

New data shows those home visits are making a major difference in helping attendance rates in Hartford and other school districts across the state.

“Attendance, and you’ve covered it a lot recently, really is a precursor to engagement. And engagement is a precursor to learning. It is foundational. It matters,” said Charlene Russell-Tucker, Education Commissioner.

In August of 2021, the state Department of Education launched the LEAP program to address student absenteeism and disengagement due to the pandemic.

LEAP stands for Learner Engagement and Attendance Program. The program helped facilitate visits to homes of students with poor attendance in 15 districts.

According to the new report, attendance increased among students in the LEAP program by 15-percent.

The results did have some differences.

“The program was more impactful at the middle school to high school level than it was at the k-6 level although it was impactful at both,” said Eric Brunner, Researcher at the University of Connecticut.

The report was put together by researchers from across Connecticut’s higher education institutions.

At home visits were incredibly impactful in Hartford and helped improve attendance beyond what was seen on average in other districts.

“It’s really important to build the relationship first. Build that trust and rapport with the family, as you continue to do home visits,” said Nuchette Black-Burke, Chief of Outreach, Family And Community Partnerships at Hartford Public Schools.

Home visits will continue in Hartford, not just for attendance but also to check in on families.

The LEAP program is funded by federal dollars and money from the state legislature.