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GRADD program partners with Ky. schools to increase attendance

Published: Sep. 7, 2021 at 9:53 AM CDT
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OWENSBORO, Ky. (WFIE) - Back in 2018, the Green River Area Development District (GRADD) was awarded a grant to help with educational neglect in children five to 11.

Officials say the grant aims to prevent referrals to the Child Protective Service by helping overcome obstacles that would cause kids to miss school.

“We provide and educational neglect prevention program,” Kristy James said, the parent engagement meeting program coordinator at GRADD. “We meet together as a group to work with the family using a strength-based approach to see how we can help them to improve the child’s attendance.”

The prevention program is a partnership between GRADD, CPS and area school districts.

Some parents are hesitant to receive this help when they hear the CPS could be involved.

“If we’re meeting together and letting them know that our true purpose is to help them and to help their child, that changes the whole dynamic of the meeting in their mindset,” James said.

In the 2018-2019 school year, the program launched in two Daviess County Public Schools and one school in the Owensboro Public School District.

Since then, officials say the program expanded to all elementary schools in DCPS, and three elementary schools in OPS.

This year, they also added elementary schools in McLean County Schools.

“The GRADD program really allowed our school to have some doors opened that normally weren’t open,” Kevin Lowe said, principal of Meadow Lands Elementary School, one of the first schools GRADD was involved with.

When a child is at risk, the program allows for a meeting to be set up with the parent, school personnel, a CPS representative and a parent engagement facilitator.

During the meeting, officials say they come up with a plan to overcome obstacles that could cause children to miss school.

GRADD officials say over the past two school years, the parent engagement meetings provided a vital resource that helps improve educational outcomes for area children.

This year, GRADD hopes to help 250 families through their meetings and programs.

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