Monday, October 25, 2010

Educational Neglect for Teenagers: New York State's New Strategies

Between 2004-2008 the allegations of educational neglect increased by 34 percent in New York State. This drastic increase led the New York State Office of Children and Family Services to invite the Vera Institute of Justice to study their approach to educational neglect and to make suggestions on how to improve their service systems. The suggestions made to improve the New York State System might aid other states who have similar ways of instituting educational neglect and who face some of the same circumstances as those experienced in New York.

The Vera Institute found that teenagers do not fit well into the traditional child protective system process. The study found that, while one of the central purposes of investigating educational neglect is to determine whether the child missing school is a symptom of abuse or serious neglect, cases involving teenagers very rarely result in safety concerns. They went on to suggest that the research suggested that cases involving teens often included complicated issues such as mental illness, complex educational needs, homelessness, and conflict between teens and parents.

The Vera Institute suggested ten strategies for improving New York State’s approach to educational neglect involving teenagers, including:

  • Amend the law to clearly state the actions schools must take before calling the state’s child abuse and neglect hot-line, the State Central Register for Child Abuse and Maltreatment (SCR).
  • Encourage data-driven inter-agency approaches with clear goals of reducing chronic truancy without increasing SCR reports for teenagers.
  • Explore amending the child protective statute to eliminate educational neglect as a ground for child protective proceedings for children ages 13 and older, while also funding and authorizing programs specifically designed to address chronic school absences among this population.

To read the Vera Institute’s full report.

For more on Building Strong and Stable Families.

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