DPSCD resource center helping families keep Detroit students in class

District townhall scheduled for Oct. 25 at 7 p.m.

Chronic absenteeism is a big, big deal even more so since the pandemic. By definition, you are considered chronically absent if you miss at least 10% of school days.

DETROIT – Chronic absenteeism is an ongoing problem that Detroit Public Schools Community District tackles with many different resources to address the root causes for absenteeism including socioeconomic issues and transportation issues.

One of the ways the district helps is with a parent resource center, a place parents can get help to get their children to school on a more regular basis.

Johnetta Burnett uses the resource center to help take care of her five grandchildren. She took over care for them when her daughter died.

“I ain’t got nobody else, like no family member to help me, but since they came, it’s like family,” Burnett said. “When they came to me they didn’t have nothing.”

The Center connects parents and caregivers with resources such as school supplies, coats, water, dry goods and hygiene products for free.

“It’s been a struggle. A real struggle but when you got support - that’s some big help,” Burnett said.

The family resource distribution center is one of the steps DPSCD is taking to reverse a rise in chronic absenteeism. Research from the district shows the reasons students miss class may have more to do with their families having stable access to resources that will help get kids to school than not caring about attendance.

It’s a great need that has been exacerbated by the pandemic.

“Detroit is such a massive district. There is such a big need. If there wasn’t a resource like this, it would be a lot harder because in my experience as a social worker, I’ve had to send families here and there and every which place to you know to get the things that they need so this is a great resource,” said Amber Ykimoff, a DPSCD school social worker.

“While we think it’s hundreds and thousands of students that need help, a lot of them don’t tell us. We don’t know if they need them or not. Even if we go to their houses some of them won’t admit that they need that help,” Sonja Bell, a DPSCD parent outreach coordinator

Tenille Allen is a single mom who uses the center.  She said she put her pride aside to help her family.

“It’s not even a hassle doing it,” Allen said. “I just ran across the resource. They found out I could use it, needed it and they told me to come on in,” said Allen.

We’re taking an in-depth look at how to solve the chronic absenteeism problem. I’ll be emceeing a town hall event with Detroit Public Schools Community District on Tuesday, Oct. 25 from 7 p.m. – 8 p.m.

I will be joined by Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti to discuss the challenges facing the district with attendance and academic achievement.

Then there will be a panel discussion with Sharlonda Buckman, assistant superintendent with the DPSCD office of family and community engagement, Alycia Meriweather, Deputy Superintendent of External Partnerships and Innovation and Effie Harris an attendance agent at Gompers Elementary Middle school.

The townhall will be held at Mumford High School and everyone is encouraged to attend. Local 4 will also carry the event live on ClickOnDetroit.com and Local4+

DPSCD parents wanting more resources can click here.

Attendance Townhall (WDIV)

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About the Author:

You can watch Kimberly Gill weekdays anchoring Local 4 News at 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. and streaming live at 10 p.m. on Local 4+. She's an award-winning journalist who finally called Detroit home in 2014. Kim has won Regional Emmy Awards, and was part of the team that won the National Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Newscast in 2022.