Program planned to reduce truancy

Kids who play hooky from school this year will have a hard time escaping Big Brother's watchful eye.

"Skip School, Skip Us" signs at local businesses will serve as a warning to truant students that authorities will be called if the students are caught in the stores during school hours.

The Ron Wood Family Resource Center is looking for businesses to participate in the program designed to curb truancy and dropout rates.

The program is in effect in Washoe County and will be started this year in Carson City.

"It gets the buy-in from local stores and casinos, basically anywhere where kids hang out when they're not in school," said Tilisa Ray, the center's executive director. "Basically, it's getting the support from businesses to help kids stay in school."

Store owners post the "Skip School, Skip Us" signs and are instructed to call the sheriff's department if truant students are spotted in the store. Service will also be refused to students skipping school.

"It's just one of the pieces in the pie, if you will, regarding truancy," May said.

The main goal is not to catch truants but to prevent truancy from occurring.

"We don't want to wait around for kids to become truant," May said.

The center relies on the schools to refer students who may be at risk of not going to school. The warning signs include bad grades, gang affiliation, boredom, family issues and others.

"Teachers are the front line. They see these kids every day," May said. "They can identify these kids as to which ones could use a little extra help."

Once referred to the center, the students are exposed to free anger management and drug and alcohol abuse prevention classes.

The students and their families are also recommended to counseling programs offered at a reduced rate.

The resource center began as a truancy center in 1995 and by 1996 had grown to encompass a wider range of services as a family resource center.

"We realized that truancy is a symptom of much deeper problems and issues within a child's family," May said.

In its first year, the center received 25 referrals and last year 400 students went through the programs offered.

To accommodate the growth, the center will move to a new location on Sept. 1. The family resource center will move to 625 Fairview, Suite 113.

The center also offers parenting classes every Tuesday and Thursday.

Parenting for teenagers runs every Thursday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the family resource center located at 637 S. Stewart St. #D.

Classes for parents with newborns to 12 years old meet every Tuesday at the same time and place.

You Can Help:

If your business would like to participate in Skip School, Skip Us, call The Ron Wood Family Resource Center at 884-2269.


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