September is Attendance Awareness Month and United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County encourages families to seek out programs that can enhance their children’s learning by calling 2-1-1.
United Way’s free 2-1-1 Helpline can connect callers to free community services that provide educational programs that will keep their children engaged in their learning after the last bell of the day rings at school. These include out-of-school-time instruction (like after-school care and summer learning), tutoring and mental health programs. Using a comprehensive database of local resources, 2-1-1 callers will discover educational resources in their zip code that can help keep children engaged in their education.
The data shows that students who attend out-of-school-time programs attend school more often and receive better grades and test scores.
School attendance is critical for the development of a child’s academic and social skills, starting as early as kindergarten. When students are chronically absent they are less likely to read proficiently by third grade, a key indicator for future success. Chronic absenteeism means students who miss 10% or more of the school year for any reason whatsoever, including excused, unexcused absences, suspensions and time missed due to changing schools. Chronically absent students are also less likely to graduate from high school.
Chronic absence has doubled since the pandemic began, from 8 million to 16 million estimated students in the U.S., which means one in three students are chronically absent from schools. Absenteeism has increased among all student groups at all income levels. Black, Latino, Native American, students living in poverty, students living with disabilities and English language learners have been especially impacted by absenteeism.
Mikaela and Abigail, twin sisters and participants in United Way Impact Partner Good Samaritan Services’ out-of-school-time program, are a shining example of how transformative out-of-school-time learning can be for young students. Because of out-of-school-time learning, Mikaela and Abigail’s are thriving in their emotional, social and cognitive development.
“It feels great for them to have a place that feels like home,” said Marbella, mother of Mikaela and Abigail. “Where they feel safe, where they can learn and where they can be themselves.” Hear more from Marbella on how out-of-school-time programs benefited her daughters in this video.
For information on how to find free, educational programs for your children, please call United Way’s 2-1-1 Helpline. 2-1-1 is available 24/7/365, free, anonymous and available in Spanish.