Focusing On Family Engagement

in Richmond Public Schools

Like so many districts, chronic absenteeism was a major challenge for Richmond Public Schools (RPS) after the pandemic—at one point nearing a 40 percent chronically absent rate. Upon making it a district-wide priority to improve attendance through an engagement approach to meet student and family needs, the chronic absenteeism rate currently stands at approximately 20%.

One of the cornerstone strategies in RPS’ comprehensive plan to tackle chronic absenteeism is the development of school-level engagement plans tailored to families’ needs. These school-level plans are implemented by a family liaison who identifies and allocates specific resources to remove attendance barriers and fosters collaboration with families and community partners, strengthening collective efforts to promote positive attendance.

One such barrier identified by families in the community through these engagement plans is a need for stable housing. To combat this challenge, RPS partners with Housing Families First, and has added a “Housing Navigator” role in the district to support families with direct funding to support stable housing. Since 2020, approximately 130 RPS families have been serviced through this partnership, increasing both student attendance and family trust within the district.

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