The Allen Superior Court’s Check and Connect program has received a substantial grant. It’s to help fight truancy in Allen County schools.
“Losing that Safe Haven grant, we were going to lose the two mentors because that grant was paying for their salaries,” Jill Carboni, Director of Education at the Allen County Juvenile Center.
Once fearing being reduced to only 4 mentors, a $217,000 grant from the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute is expanding Check and Connect to 10 mentors inside Allen County schools, preventing truancy.
“We are those children’s first call for action for help,” says Tabitha Craig, Coordinator for Check and Connect.
Mentors in the Check and Connect program are in Allen County Schools every day, and will have some sort of contact with their students. Each mentor takes on 25 students.
They’ll check attendance, tutor kids, make sure they can get to school, and even go above and beyond making sure they have clean clothes.
“These mentors become strong advocates for these kids. They make connections with school officials, they make connections with the kids, and more importantly they make connections with the family…They work 25 hours, but I think their hearts are out there 24/7,” says Jill.
These connections will continue thanks to the grant by keeping kids in school, keeping grades up, and graduating high school.
“Graduation rates directly affect employability for our community later on,” says Tabitha.
Since Check and Connects start in 2014, they say placing their mentors in schools has decreased unexcused and excused absences, decreased referrals to the office, and student grades going up.
“This is working, and working well,” says Jill.
Schools in Allen County provided data for their 2016-17 school year.
In Fort Wayne Community School’s 5 high schools, they had 1,318 students with more than 10 unexcused absences during the school year.
East Allen County Schools had 410 truancy cases in their high schools.
Southwest Allen County Schools had 7 students with more than 10 unexcused days.
Northwest Allen County Schools had 0 truancies.
Check and Connect hopes to decrease truancy by 10% more in the schools they serve, which are currently Fort Wayne Community Schools and East Allen County Schools.