The Be There Program, created by the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania in 2013, takes a community-based, data-driven approach to decrease the number of students who fall behind academically due to chronic absenteeism.
Since its introduction in 2013, other areas in the region have noticed its success in the Pittsburgh region and have begun to partner with the Program and put it to use in their region. The Healthy Blair County Coalition, along with its own initiative, Youth Connection, has adopted the Be There Program to aid in its goal of lowering the percentage of disconnected youth (not in school or working) in Blair County.
The Program makes available the idea of conducting an Attendance Challenge for schools to encourage students to come to school regularly, emphasizing positive messaging, reinforcement and incentives. It is an opportunity to challenge students to make it a priority to come to school everyday for a set period of time and reward them for any achievements received.
It also focuses on working directly with parents as a priority so they can combat chronic absenteeism at home with giving tips and guidelines on how to better control their child’s school attendance. It also focuses on educating many parents on the negative effects of chronic absenteeism and what is considered chronic absenteeism.
Through the Be There Program, both community partners and key stakeholders will partner to support schools, programs and communities with initiatives that reinforce school attendance in a positive light.