Family Support Team Findings: A Peek Behind the Curtain
Better attendance strongly hinges on better family engagement. And better family engagement rests heavily on relationships and outreach that can be time intensive for the already time-strapped educator. That’s why both our district partners and the families they serve are especially appreciative of the family support we provide to boost their family engagement efforts. In this post, we’ll explore some insights and trends we’ve seen from conversations that our Family Support Team has had with families across the nation.
First, a little about the Family Support Team
EveryDay Intervention sends mail and text nudges to families of students who are or at risk of being chronically absent. When families have questions or need support, they can reach out to the 24/7 Family Support Bot or the live, multilingual Family Support Team. Not only do they help clarify questions about the attendance nudges, but they provide compassionate and meaningful support to families who may need help finding meals, transportation, or financial support, just to name a few.
While reviewing their conversations over the past few months, several trends emerged that shed light on the common challenges families are facing and how the EveryDay Intervention program helps support entire school communities in overcoming them.
Prompt support & resources to overcome barriers
Physical and mental wellness barriers are some of the most commonly cited reasons for missing school, and the Family Support Team connects families to resources that the district provides but that families may not know about, as well as local community resources that are available through findhelp.org.
In our hectic modern world, families and students are facing extreme health and wellness challenges that are preventing them from getting to school, like chronic illness, debilitating anxiety, or depression. We see this in many of the conversations with the Family Support Team.
At the same time, educators are busier than ever before, and many families report difficulties in connecting with someone at their school who can help them find the needed resource. Many families report surprise, delight, and gratitude when they receive a phone call from the Family Support Team offering to provide help, like this caretaker from Fulton County Schools:
“Thank you so much for calling me. When you called I thought it was a telemarketer, little did I know it was an angel calling me this morning. I didn't even know it. Can't really tell how you look over the phone, whether you have wings or what.”
We are happy to see the Family Support Team plug into the important ongoing work of our partners, helping them support families with the right resource at the right time to get to school more often.
Excused vs. unexcused absences: what really “counts”
Helping families make the shift from thinking that a note from home cancels out the harm of missing a day of learning to understanding that every day counts, whether excused or unexcused, has not been without its challenges. Many district educators have implemented campaigns to reinforce this shift, and the Family Support Team continues to help these efforts.
A common question that arises after receiving an attendance nudge is around what counts as an absence. Does vacation cleared by the family count? Multiple tardies? And while families are often encouraged to check in with their school about the attendance policy, these conversations are important touchpoints in building understanding around the importance of attending every day.
A vote of confidence: low opt-out rates
Family Support Team conversations reveal that families deeply appreciate the reminders and support that our mail and text nudges and Family Support Team provides. In the 22-23 school year, we saw a 4.38% opt-out rate. This is also affirmed by the gratitude we get from the families we talk to and request to remain in the loop on the mail and text notifications:
“Please don't remove me from these notifications. I find these very useful.” Osceola family
“I like getting the message because they're going to be used to it once they get older and know that they have to go to school because you'll always let me know. It's a great way to be on top of our children, it doesn't bother me at all.” -Dallas ISD family