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Child Welfare & Attendance

A specialized student support service that combines counseling and legal remedies to resolve complicated or persistent student attendance or behavior problems.

Child Welfare and Attendance is a specialized student support service that covers compliance with compulsory education laws, student admission and enrollment procedures, student discipline procedures, transfers to alternative programs, and school climate and safety. Child welfare and attendance combines the knowledge and skill of counseling with knowledge of education and the law to resolve complicated situations involving school choice, student discipline, campus safety, and programs for high-risk youth.

Expanded Duties of Attendance Supervisors

Under Assembly Bill 2815, which became law on January 1, 2017, the role of attendance supervisors has been expanded to include more effective practices to address chronic absenteeism and truancy.

Reducing California’s high chronic absenteeism rates is a priority in the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP). This update to California Education Code (EC) sections 48240–48244 can be a tool for meeting local goals to reduce chronic absenteeism rates. These changes in attendance supervision practices help promote a culture of attendance and improve local systems to accurately track pupil attendance by grade level and pupil subgroup.

Districts may find it helpful to review the effective practices described in this legislation when considering the duties of attendance supervisors and assistant attendance supervisors.

Identified duties for attendance supervisors in this legislation include the following:

  • Raise the awareness of school personnel, parents, guardians, caregivers, community partners, and local businesses of the effects of chronic absenteeism, truancy, and other challenges associated with poor attendance.
  • Identify and respond to grade level or pupil subgroup patterns of chronic absenteeism or truancy.
  • Identify and address factors contributing to chronic absenteeism and habitual truancy, including suspension and expulsion.
  • Ensure that pupils with attendance problems are identified as early as possible to provide applicable support services and interventions.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of strategies implemented to reduce chronic absenteeism rates and truancy rates.
  • Effective January 1, 2019, supervisors of attendance have a duty to ensure that students receiving individual instruction in home and hospital programs are excused from the regular school program until they return to their regular school program.

An attendance supervisor may refer chronic absentees and truants to critical support services and interventions which will help them get back on track with their education. Examples of these key services and interventions benefiting high risk youth listed in the legislation are as follows:

  • A conference between school personnel, the pupil’s parent or guardian, and the pupil.
  • Promoting co-curricular and extracurricular activities that increase pupil connectedness to school, such as tutoring, mentoring, the arts, service learning, or athletics.
  • Recognizing pupils who achieve excellent attendance or demonstrate significant improvement in attendance.
  • Referral to a school nurse, school counselor, school psychologist, school social worker, and other pupil support personnel for case management and counseling.
  • Collaboration with child welfare services, law enforcement, courts, public health care agencies, or government agencies, or medical, mental health, and oral health care providers to receive necessary services.
  • Collaborating with school study teams, guidance teams, school attendance review teams, or other intervention-related teams to assess the attendance or behavior problem in partnership with the pupil and his or her parents, guardians, or caregivers.
  • In schools with significantly higher rates of chronic absenteeism, identify barriers to attendance that may require schoolwide strategies instead of case management.
  • Referral for a comprehensive psychosocial or psychoeducational assessment.
  • Referral to a school attendance review board.
  • Referral to a county truancy mediation program.

California Definition of Chronic Absentee

A "chronic absentee" has been defined in EC Section 60901(c)(1) as "a pupil who is absent on 10 percent or more of the school days in the school year when the total number of days a pupil is absent is divided by the total number of days the pupil is enrolled and school was actually taught in the regular day schools of the district, exclusive of Saturdays and Sundays."

California Definition of Chronic Absenteeism Rate

The “chronic absenteeism rate” has been defined in California Code of Regulations Title 5, Section 157497.5 appendix:
(a) “Chronic absenteeism rate” shall be calculated as follows:
(1) The number of pupils with a primary, secondary, or short-term enrollment during the academic year (July 1–June 30) who are chronically absent where “chronic absentee” means a pupil who is absent 10 percent or more of the school days in the school year when the total number of days a pupil is absent is divided by the total number of days the pupil is enrolled and school was actually taught in the total number of days the pupil is enrolled and school was actually taught in the regular day schools of the district, exclusive of Saturdays and Sundays.
(2) The unduplicated count of pupils with a primary, secondary, or short-term enrollment during the academic year (July 1–June 30).
(3) Divide (1) by (2).

The above definition is used in California for Local Control and Accountability Plans and differs from the chronic absenteeism rate definition used in accordance with the data collection conducted pursuant to Section 203(c)(1) of the Department of Education Organization Act (20 U.S.C. 3413(c)(1)) for Title I schools. The federal definition for chronic absenteeism counts students who have missed 15 days of school for any reason during one school year rather than students who have been absent 10 percent or more of the school days.

Statewide Chronic Absenteeism Rates Available

Statewide chronic absenteeism data became available in December 2017, providing new access to absenteeism rates throughout California to both educators and community members. The chronic absenteeism rates for counties, school districts, and schools, as well as for different student subgroups, are available through DataQuest.

Definition of Chronic Absenteeism Indicator for the California School Dashboard

The California School Dashboard (Dashboard) provides information about how schools and districts are performing in kindergarten through eighth grade in reducing chronic absenteeism rates for different subgroups of students. Performance is based on the current chronic absenteeism rate and improvement or lack of improvement from the previous school year. To meet the definition of a chronic absentee for the purpose of the Dashboard, the kindergarten through eighth grade student must be absent on at least ten percent of the instructional days enrolled and must be enrolled a minimum of 31 instructional days. A chronic absentee must also have attended at least one day to meet the Dashboard criteria. Chronic absenteeism rates of more than twenty percent are considered very high (red), ten to twenty percent are high (orange), five to ten percent are medium (yellow), 2.5 percent to five percent are low (green), and very low are 2.5 percent or less (blue). Changes in chronic absenteeism rates vary from those which have declined significantly (by three percent or more) to those that have increased significantly (increased by 3 percent or more). To learn more about the Dashboard and find out how a school or district are performing on the Chronic Absenteeism Indicator, please visit the California School Dashboard External link opens in new window or tab..


Attendance in the Early Grades: Why it Matters for Reading External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
A research brief about the impact of attendance in the early grades on reading skills with recommendations for improving attendance.

Every Student, Every Day: A Community Toolkit to Address and Eliminate Chronic Absenteeism External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
Offers information, suggested action steps, and lists of existing tools and resources—including evidence-based resources—for individuals, leaders, and systems to begin or enhance the work of effective, coordinated community action to address and eliminate chronic absenteeism.

Present, Engaged, and Accounted For External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
Focuses on the critical importance of addressing chronic absence in the early grades.

School Attendance Review Board Handbook and Forms
This web page includes resources to improve school attendance.


Attendance Works External link opens in new window or tab.
A national and state initiative that promotes awareness of the important role that school attendance plays in achieving academic success starting with school entry.

How Social Emotional Learning Can Reengage All Students and Reduce Chronic Absence External link opens in new window or tab. (Video; 1:06:26)
Information about social-emotional programs work with attendance programs to re-engage students and reduce chronic absenteeism rates.

Pathways to Engagement Toolkit for COVID 19 Recovery Through Attendance External link opens in new window or tab.
A valuable framework for school teams to engage student groups during unprecedented barriers to student health and school attendance.

Reporting Requirements for Severance of Attendance
Information on EC Section 48203, which requires the superintendent of a school district or the principal of a private school to report the severance of attendance of children with exceptional needs or handicapped children.

Seize the Data Opportunity in California External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
This collaborative report by Attendance Works, Children Now, and the University of California, Davis Center for Regional Change is based on the recently released data from the California Department of Education (CDE) available in DataQuest. The report provides findings and closes with recommendations for key stakeholders.

WhyTry Dropout Prevention Program External link opens in new window or tab.
WhyTry is a social-emotional learning program that specializes in dropout prevention and helps disadvantaged youth develop resilience to stay in school using visuals, art, video, music, and activities.

Sample Forms

The California Code of Regulations Title 5, Section 421 states that the verification of illness or quarantine shall be made in accordance with any reasonable method which establishes the fact that the pupil was actually ill or under quarantine, if the method has been approved by a school district governing board or a county board of education. For verifying a chronic illness, districts like San Juan Unified School District have adopted a special form to verify the chronic illness. Appreciation is extended to staff members of the San Juan Unified School District who permitted the CDE to use their Chronic Illness Verification Form as an example for statewide use.

San Juan Unified School District's Chronic Illness Verification Form External link opens in new window or tab.
The Chronic Illness Verification Sample Form allows parents to excuse absences due to a specific medical condition with the same authority as a medical professional.

California EC Section 48260.5 requires a notice to the parent or guardian upon a pupil's classification as a truant. A pupil is classified as a truant if the pupil is between the ages of six and eighteen and is absent from school without a valid excuse or exemption for more than any 30-minute period on three days in one school year. The Harvard Kennedy School Research Working Paper linked below provides a modification of the standard notification form which uses simplified language and highlights parental influence and the negative incremental effects of missing school to improve the impact of parental communication on school attendance.

Using Behavioral Insights to Improve Truancy Notification: Faculty Research Working Paper Series External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
A modified truancy notification that improves student attendance.

Questions:   Educational Options Office |
Last Reviewed: Monday, January 10, 2022