CADDO PARISH, La. (KTAL/KMSS) — Caddo Parish Public Schools wants parents to know of the free services to connect with truant youths and support their parents, focusing on those with ten unexcused absences.

Collectively, the community partners at CPPS’s ‘Attendance Support Fair’ echoed each other, expressing that their biggest challenge is the younger generation no longer values education.

Community Partners at the Blanchard Fair included:

Caddo Schools wants to connect the community with its many services to help students and parents reach their potential.

“So what we try to do is connect with the parent to find out why the student is missing so many days and if we can help them or make some adjustments,” says CPPS Attendance Facilitator Antony Russell.

Russell finds parents of truant youths are often unaware of the timeframe to send in an absentee note. Parents must submit regular absentee notes within three days or medical/dental notes within a year.

“So, a lot of times, the school doesn’t tell the parents that they can write – unless it’s state-regulated – BPCC has said where they can give a three-day notice for an excuse, and some of it like middle school and high school, they do skip school. So that’s why some parents don’t know until they get a letter from us or email saying, ‘Hey, Johnny has skipped school. Johnny has missed 10-15 days.”

Russell explains if a parent fails to respond to calls or texts, they may request a wellness check or subpoena them.

They are set to have more ‘attendance fairs’ in 2024.

Placement Specialist at Shreveport Job Corps, Latosa Hall, describes the younger generation as wanting things quickly comparable to a microwave.

“They want everything fast,” says Hall, “This generation, you have to realize that even with them wanting things microwavable – it’s okay. You have to meet them where they’re at, and at Shreveport Job Corps Center, we meet them where they’re at.”

“Everything we offer is free,” says the Placement Specialist at Shreveport Job Corps, Latosa Hall, “Free tuition, free high school diplomas, free HiSet, and eight trades.”

Hall acknowledges the barriers individuals face, whether it is a matter of transportation or financial instability. She says their peers’ opinion influences the younger generation.

“A lot of people don’t finish their high school diploma, um, in this day and age, a lot of kids they’re really not hearing what their parents think. They’re more concerned about what their peers think,” expresses Hall.

She notices that if the person’s friend leaves school, they follow suit.

Similarly, Goodwill Industries North Louisiana rewards those who graduate with $500, and through their Growth Opportunities Program, assists those 16-24 with criminal justice involvement to find careers and education.

Education Manager at Goodwill Industries, Kimberly Masters, says are currently 56 students in their General Educational Development (GED) program.

“We partner with so many people. We help you get clothes to get to work. We help you with rides to work.”

Masters says Goodwill’s programs have non-traditional hours, noting their job centers are accessible due to the free buses for the remainder of the year.

“So you’re only there for three hours a day. In addition to that, we help you find jobs because we want to make sure, you know, kind of keep you active, and that keeps them out of trouble,” explains Masters.