Santa Rosa, CA – March 9, 2015 – The California Board of State and Community Corrections announced the selection of the Sonoma County Probation Department to receive a three-year Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) to address youth truancy. The 3-year grant will provide $715,000 annually to fund the Keeping Kids in School (KKIS) project, which will provide case management services to address attendance problems early, keep kids connected to school, and prevent future criminal justice system involvement.
School sites will be selected based on need and readiness, and case coordination at school sites will include school staff, county and other agency staff, and service providers. A flexible approach will be used to address the varying needs of students and their families, and how they are engaged in services. Student and family participation in KKIS is completely voluntary.
“Working together to keep our kids in school is the key to improving social and economic health in our community,” commented Board of Supervisors Chair Susan Gorin. “We are pleased to see additional funds coming into our community to focus on this important issue.”
Juvenile Court Presiding Judge Virginia Marcoida facilitates meetings of the Partnering to Keep Kids in School, the multi-system cooperative effort. According to Judge Marcoida, “This is the first time that Sonoma County has had a collaboration of this type devoted to addressing truancy and suspensions in our school.”
According to the California Attorney General, Sonoma County lost a total of $9.1 million of state revenue due to absenteeism during the 2012/13 school year, or about $171 per student. The long-term outcomes of truancy include large societal expenses from low educational and occupational attainment, poverty, social service and justice system involvement, poor health, increased crime and victimization, and foregone tax revenues.
Chief Probation Officer Robert Ochs stated, “I am extremely pleased that Sonoma County will receive this grant to address a critical need in our community. This upstream approach we’re undertaking has the support of a broad array of stakeholders, including the Court, the Board of Supervisors, Education, Law Enforcement, and local service providers. It will pay dividends for many years by helping keep kids in school, and hence less likely to enter the criminal justice system.”
KKIS planning activities began on March 1, 2015, and services for students and families will begin with the new school year in August 2015.