A Resource Guide of Best Practices
for Pregnant and Parenting Teen Programs
School Attendance And
Welfare Reform Laws
Collaboration with Schools and Agencies
Regular school attendance is often a concern when working with
pregnant or parenting teens. During pregnancy, the teen may
experience a variety of physical problems that interfere with
regular attendance. After the birth of the baby, the teen must
balance the difficult roles of student and parent. Often
childbearing compounds existing attendance problems. Most
frequently, teen parents are absent for several reasons: the
susceptibility of young children to a variety of illnesses,
necessity of scheduling physician and agency appointments during
the school day and the reliability of the teens' child care provider.
Absenteeism has been and continues to be a major obstacle in
providing the education and support necessary for teens to become
good parents and self-sufficient adults. Poor attendance and a high
absentee rate can result in:
to comprehend material;
or missing homework assignments;
of connection with the school and school-related activities; and
labeled as unmotivated and uncooperative.
Act 29, a 1995 Pennsylvania law, imposed stiffer penalties for
truancy of all students. In summary, this Act includes:
A $300 fine, parent education classes and/or community service for parents
of a truant child, if the parents cannot show they took reasonable steps
to insure the child's school attendance.
parent and child must appear at a hearing before the district justice.
students may lose their driver's license for 90 days for a first offense
and six months for a second offense.
child who does not have a driver's license shall be ineligible to apply
for a learner's permit for a period of one year.
In addition, Act 98, a 1996 amendment to the Pennsylvania Crimes
Code, imposes new, harsher penalties against adults who assist in
student truancy. In summary:
There is a maximum fine of $300 and up to 90 days in jail for an adult
who aids, abets, entices or encourages a student (under age 18) to be
truant from school. This is considered a summary offense.
Subsequent violations by such a person within one year of the prior
offense constitute a misdemeanor of the third degree, which is punishable
by a maximum fine of $2,500 and up to one year in jail.
Pregnant and Parenting Teen students must comply with both Act 29
and Act 98. In addition, the attendance of students enrolled in
ELECT Programs is monitored by program staff and the County
Assistance Office (CAO).
Welfare Reform Laws
Welfare Reform has increased emphasis on education and training
programs for welfare recipients. Teen parents who receive
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) fall under the
new reform guidelines which include:
an unmarried, custodial, minor parent must reside with a parent, legal
guardian or other adult relative unless exempted by the state.
unmarried, custodial, minor parent caring for a child 12 weeks of age
or older, who has not completed high school or attained a GED must participate
in an educational activity directed toward the attainment of a high
school diploma or its equivalent or an alternative educational or training
program that has been approved by the state.
Some effective strategies to promote regular school attendance include:
School personnel check school attendance daily/weekly.
personnel initiate phone contacts as soon as an attendance problem is
the problem continues, home visits are made.
personnel should collaborate with the local authorities responsible
for enforcing the attendance law.
CAO case worker and PPT staff meet on a monthly basis to discuss attendance
issues and develop strategies to address problems.
Program staff closely monitor attendance through a Monthly
Attendance Report (MAR). The report is sent to the CAO and
identifies the number of days attended in relation to the
number of days scheduled and reasons for absences.
When all program efforts fail and the student continues to be
truant, the option lies with the local CAO to place sanctions
upon the student and/or family for noncompliance with the school's
attendance requirements. Through frequent communication with the
local CAO, warning letters and individual meetings between the
student and the CAO case worker will be a first step in addressing
an attendance problem. If the truancy continues, the teen parent's
welfare benefits can be sanctioned until compliance occurs. These
sanctions may include cessation of cash benefits, child care benefits
and/or food stamps. Withholding benefits can be a powerful motivator
for school attendance.
The following are strategies that have been used by PPT Programs
in Pennsylvania to address attendance problems. It is important to
remember that there are many causes for poor attendance and,
therefore, no one best solution. Teen parents, like all teenagers,
need to be constantly reminded that they are ultimately responsible
for their attendance. It is the teen's responsibility to schedule
appointments and make child care arrangements that reduce the number
Upon enrolling in the PPT Program, the attendance policy must be
reviewed with each student individually. A PPT Program should also:
require the student to sign a contract regarding participation in
the program; provide a copy of the signed contract to the families
of teen parents to insure their understanding and support; monitor
attendance regularly; and inform students of the consequences of
Monitoring procedures for PPT students vary throughout the state.
In the best-case scenario, the student's attendance is monitored
on a daily basis. This is possible when the PPT-Program staff/teacher
is assigned to only one building. However, when the PPT Program
staff/teacher is assigned to several buildings, attendance may be
monitored on a weekly basis. Attendance monitoring should include
phone contacts and home visits to determine the reason for absences
and provide needed support services.
Home Visits and Phone Contacts
Frequent individual contact and a strong home-school bond are the
cornerstone of a successful program. There are several ways to
achieve this goal.
Phone contacts are the first step in opening the lines of
communication with the family/guardian. They will enable
program staff to determine immediately the reason for the
absence and provide the necessary intervention.
Home visits are also essential in establishing a close
working relationship with the family.
Home visits are made to enlist the family's aid in providing
Home visits help PPT staff to identify health-related problems,
substance abuse problems and/or mental health problems.
Incentive programs have proven to be an excellent technique to
increase attendance and motivate students to attend school. By
developing partnerships with local businesses, schools are able
to receive new and used items as donations for their incentive
programs. In order for an incentive to be successful, it must be
developed in cooperation with the students. The following are
examples of incentives that have proven to be successful.
of recognition or achievement; selection of a student of the month;
special privileges; recognition luncheon; and other verbal reinforcement
of desired behavior.
package of diapers or child's underwear if the PPT student has been
absent one day a month or less.
end-of-the-year drawing for a $ 100 gift certificate. Names are entered
monthly, based on good attendance, giving the student a maximum of nine
chances to win.
Bucks. The Baby Bucks are issued for good attendance and can be redeemed
at a PPT baby store. Items in the store have been donated by local businesses,
clubs and individuals.
gift certificates awarded monthly by a local mall for good attendance.
Collaboration with Schools and
Cooperation and collaboration between school districts and
local community agencies are essential to insure the success of
PPT students. PPT staff could use the following school district
staff and programs to assist with attendance problems.
School District Attendance Clerks/Officers
These staff monitor attendance daily and can assist with home
Juvenile Probation Department
Some school districts have a Probation Officer assigned to
their buildings. Other districts have written agreements with
Probation to collaborate on individual cases.
Dropout Prevention Programs
Districts may have staff assigned to assist with
Alternative Education and Flexible Scheduling Programs
Partnerships with Local Post-Secondary Educational Facilities
This may include community colleges, universities, colleges and
business or technical schools.
Student Assistance Program (SAP)
Trained staff are able to identify and refer students whose
attendance problems are related to mental health and/or drug
and alcohol issues.
Homework Clubs, After-School Programs, Tutoring
School Guidance Counselors and In-School Support Groups
Concerned adults can provide encouragement and support to pregnant
and parenting teens through positive role modeling and help with
Children, Youth and Family Services (CYFS)
Many districts have CYFS case workers assigned to the SAP team
or a worker assigned as a liaison to a school.
In some cases, communities have Family Centers that provide
on-site counseling drop-in centers, after-school programs
and assistance to teens and their families.
There are a variety of local community-based centers that
provide recreational, social and educational activities.
Local YMCA's and YWCA's are just one example.
Falls Area School District
||The district provides each pregnant and parenting teen
with a calendar each month. Students are required to track
their attendance and submit reasons for nonattendance.
This process promotes students' responsibility for their
behavior and encourages regular attendance.
Contact: Nancy Hutchinson (724) 843-7470 x 3
||A Student Achievement Award Ceremony and Luncheon are
held at the end of each semester to recognize the
accomplishments of teen parents in the areas of academic
achievement, improved attendance and successful
completion of program activities.
Contact: Adele Peters (610) 622-0211
||The provision of emergency child care and assistance
in accessing and scheduling needed medical care are used
to promote regular attendance. Additionally, gift
certificates, prizes, and clothing for teens and babies
are attendance incentives donated by community businesses.
Contact: Debbie Gifford (814) 724-6768
return to the PPT Best Practices Manual