Dropping out of school has serious personal, social and economic consequences for the individual, the family and society. Drop-outs face social stigma, reduced job opportunities and lower salaries. They are ill equipped to take on adult responsibilities and often end up becoming young parents, unemployed, on drugs and/or engaged in criminal activity. Drop-outs are costly to society, constituting about 50 percent of those on public welfare and 80 percent of all incarcerated youth. In 2011 it was estimated that drop-outs would cost the U.S. economy more than $154 billion in lost income over the course of their lifetimes.
Research shows that when parents support a child’s education and academic life, the child is more likely to attend school regularly, earn higher grades and scores on tests, develop realistic goals and plans for the future, graduate from high school, and enroll in post-secondary programs. Family involvement is key to a child’s success in academic life, and it is important that this involvement occurs early in the school experience, because dropping out is frequently the result of a history of repeated problems and failures in the child’s life.
All parents want their children to succeed. But many, especially those in poverty and living with a multitude of problems, are not able to attend to the child’s growing and educational needs. Or they may not know the seriousness of the consequences of a failure to finish school. Or they may not know how to nurture the child’s educational attainment. Schools and communities must therefore reach out to these families and provide them with opportunities to learn and to participate.
There are numerous efforts at the school, community and national levels for drop-out prevention. Federal funding provides an impetus for innovative approaches that meet local situations, and several states have created unique and successful programs. The National Dropout Prevention Center/Network provides resources and strategies to reduce drop-out rates in schools. Expanding Minds and Opportunities is another national organization that advocates quality after-school and summer learning programs which incorporate research-based drop-out prevention programs. These programs all emphasize the importance of family participation.
A unique and effective program that can be adapted to local needs is Communities In Schools (CIS). The effectiveness of this program lies in its emphasis on creating opportunities for youngsters to build healthy relationships with caring individual adults, for in the end, this is what pulls children through. CIS places site coordinators in schools who are accessible to students on a highly personal, one-on-one basis. Coordinators connect students with resources appropriate to their particular needs. These resources include social service agencies, healthcare providers, local businesses and volunteers. Communities In Schools of Jacksonville is an example of a long-established, successful program that has created a system of support for local students, with the help of their families and the Jacksonville community.
It is tragic to waste human beings in destructive life paths. When a child feels supported, his or her growth impulses are awakened and the energies devoted previously to mere survival can be directed instead toward learning and developing. With many new drop-out prevention programs offered that include parental involvement, more disadvantaged youth can be saved and supported toward healthy and successful lives.
Contact Communities In Schools of Jacksonville to learn more, volunteer, or receive support for your child’s education.
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