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Truancy Court Program Newsletter

University of Baltimore School of Law Center for Families, Children & the Courts
May 2010
In This Issue
Honoring Achievment
Spotlight on Pupil Personnel
From Trauma to Treatment
The TCP Road
Honoring Achievment!
Barclay graduation highlights
Barclay Elementary/Middle School celebrated students' successful completion of the Truancy Court Program last semester. The Honorable Catherine Curran O'Malley, the TCP judge for Barclay, congratulated students as she handed them certificates. Parents, school personnel, and TCP staff were all on hand to cheer students on...and a few friends and younger siblings were in the cheering squad, too! (Photos, S. Rubinstein)
Spotlight on Pupil Personnel Workers 
Stack and Meyers Combination Pic Pupil personnel workers (PPW) are natural partners for the Center for Families, Children and the Courts (CFCC) Truancy Court Program (TCP), because they are charged by the state's school systems with getting children to come to school all day, every day, on time. Two of the resourceful PPWs who work with TCP are Anne Arundel County's Paul Stack and Sue Meyers.
Stack and Meyers deal with the entire range of truants, from the "soft truants," with 5 to 20 absences or tardies in the prior two marking periods, to the "chronic truants" who miss much more.  Sometimes, they say, the problem only needs a quick fix - connecting a family to resources, such as a washing machine when children lack clean clothes.  For the "soft" or early truants, they have found that "the faster you get in, the easier it is to undo" the underlying problem causing truant behavior.  Because resources are often spent for intensive interventions that target the more serious truants, however, Stack and Meyers are not always able to give these early or soft truants the attention they need.  That is why they appreciate the TCP so much; it is a turn-key 10-week approach that fits the niche beautifully.

Meyers and Stack are very pleased with the implementation of the TCP.  They are so confident about the program's effectiveness that they intend to continue running it even after CFCC's direct involvement ends.  Meyers says Anne Arundel teachers are great fans of the program, too, even though it means more paperwork.  In fact, she says, teachers send notes and give a "heads up" about how the students are doing whenever they get new information they believe can be useful to the TCP team.

The PPWs praise CFCC staff generously. After-school basketball?  TCP Mentor Arion Alston has done it with PPW Paul Stack.  Cell phone numbers for Arion and TCP Coordinator Jessica Stowell are programmed into Sue Meyers' phone, and "I now consider them my friends," she says. (Photos, A. Alston)
See more on PPWs

Welcome to the inaugural edition of the University of Baltimore School of Law's Center for Families, Children and the Courts (CFCC) Truancy Court Program (TCP) e-newsletter. We at CFCC are proud of the powerful partnership among the TCP, Maryland's judiciary, and some of the public school systems throughout the state.
The TCP has been a strong presence in the Baltimore City Public Schools for nearly five years, and this year CFCC is operating the program in Montgomery and Anne Arundel Counties after receiving a federal earmark for expansion. CFCC also hopes to expand to four new schools in other jurisdictions.
In this issue, we tell you about who, what, where, when, and why. We introduce you to our key personnel, describe the TCP process, inform you about program activities, and explain how you can get involved.
Come along with us!
From Trauma to Treatment: the First Lady Steps In
Barclay graduation highlightsJudge Catherine Curran O'Malley has been a Truancy Court Program (TCP) judge since the early days of the program. She has a devoted following among formerly truant students who have been inspired by her encouragement, admonitions, and attention. Now she has the special gratitude of one little girl and her family whose suffering has touched the First Lady's heart.
Over a year ago, a pit bull mauled a Barclay Elementary/Middle School first-grader. She was left with devastating facial injuries. Judge O'Malley met her at the TCP and sprang into action. Now the surgery will be performed, cost free, thanks to the generosity of Dr. John Mitcherling and the intervention of a dedicated TCP judge who just happens to be Maryland's First Lady and knew how to make it happen.(Photo, A. Alston)
The TCP Road: Where We've Been, Where We're Going, Who We Are
WHY: The mission of the University of Baltimore School of Law Center for Families, Children, and the Courts (CFCC) is to create, foster and support local, state, and national movements to integrate communities, families and the justice system in order to improve the lives of families and the health of the community.  Truancy can lead to problems in school, in the community, in the workplace, and in life. CFCC has developed the TCP as an early intervention approach in the belief that it is an effective means to improve the lives of truant children and their families.  It is designed to identify and address the problems that underlie truant behavior, and it relies on a collaboration among schools, families, the community, and the courts to forge solutions and change circumstances that cause truancy in the first place.
WHEN AND WHERE: The Truancy Court Program has come a long way since its inception in 2005, but it has adhered very closely to its original formula for success. Starting in four Baltimore City schools and serving a total of thirty students, the TCP has expanded tremendously since then. Twelve Maryland schools currently offer the program (eight in Baltimore City, two in Anne Arundel County, and two in Montgomery County).  Looking forward, CFCC hopes to establish the program in four new schools beginning in September 2010.  
HOW: The program is based on an early intervention model and targets students who are "soft" truants - students who have from five to twenty unexcused absences - in the belief that this group still has academic, social, and emotional connections to the school.  The TCP is a preventive program, as it aims to identify and address the root causes of truancy, linking children and their families to needed social services and other supports.
See more on HOW
WHAT: While the TCP operation revolves around the meetings among the judge, the student, and the TCP team, CFCC offers a wide range of services, referrals, and programs in connection with the TCP.  These include:
  • A Mentoring Program for both students and parents participating in the TCP, including character-building classes and individual mentoring.
  • A school-based "Kids and Cameras" program for students interested in photography.
  • A Volunteer Initiative that brings volunteer mentors, tutors, and others to the TCP schools.
See more on WHAT

The TCP program is a collaborative effort. CFCC Director Barbara Babb explains, "What makes the program so special is the caring, dedication, and enthusiasm of our participants, including volunteer judges, CFCC's TCP staff, University of Baltimore School of Law students, and public school personnel."  Read more about the former professional football player, actor, city school teacher, lawyers, and others who make up the CFCC TCP team. And if you would like to contribute your time, talents, or treasure, please contact us!
Barbara Babb, Associate Professor of Law and Director, Center for Families, Children and the Courts

TCP Staff: Gloria Danziger, Senior Fellow; Sharon Rubinstein, Senior Fellow; Andrea Bento, TCP Manager and School Liaison; Anthony "Bubba" Green, TCP Mentor Coordinator; Arion Alston, TCP Mentor; Jessica Stowell, TCP Coordinator; Edana Gerald, TCP Coordinator; Renee McElroy, TCP Mentor for Montgomery County; Sharon Curley, Program Administrative Specialist; Mimi Lumeh, Administrative Assistant

Editing Staff: Barbara Babb, Editor; Sharon Rubinstein, Editor/Writer; Andrea Bento, Writer; Mimi Lumeh, Assistant Editor; Arion Alston, Photographer 
University of Baltimore School of Law Center for Families, Children & the Courts
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