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Truancy Court Program Receives Grant from the Charles Crane Family Foundation

The University of Baltimore School of Law’s Sayra and Neil Meyerhoff Center for Families, Children and the Courts (CFCC) recently received a $50,000 grant from the Charles Crane Family Foundation for its Truancy Court Program. The funding will support the program in the 2014-15 academic year.

This support is especially meaningful to CFCC because the Crane Foundation was the initial grantor for the Truancy Court Program in 2005, and has funded it each year since.

Said Professor Barbara Babb, director of CFCC, “It’s a vote of confidence that they acknowledge the work, understand it and appreciate it.”

Since its inception in 2004, the Truancy Court Program has addressed problems that underlie truancy to prevent the behavior from leading to delinquency, crime and violence. The program addresses the root causes of truancy and links families to social services and community based support.

Funding from the Charles Crane Family Foundation will allow the Truancy Court Program to operate in at least a few schools during the 2014-15 academic year. Program operation involves hiring a mentor for each school served, as well as a program-wide coordinator, a social worker and a data analyst. The funds will also help provide incentives for children who excel in the program.

These resources are critical to the program’s holistic approach of identifying and addressing the causes of truancy. Babb said mentoring helps students build self-esteem, set goals and work toward achieving them. She added that the students come to rely on the presence of TCP staff and volunteers, a reliance that further improves attendance and academic achievement.

In the Fall 2012 Truancy Court Program session, 57 percent of the participants graduated from the program. To graduate, students had to reduce their unexcused absences by at least 65 percent. In the Spring 2013 session, 60 percent of the program participants graduated. The program currently is operating in seven schools in Baltimore City for the 2013-14 academic year.

In addition, CFCC operates the Truancy Court Program in several Montgomery County schools. A recent story in the Montgomery County Gazette detailed the work the program has done in five of the county's middle schools, where the Truancy Court Program is funded by the Montgomery County Council through the Office of the State’s Attorney.

The TCP also transforms the UB Law CFCC student fellows who serve as law clerks to the Maryland District and Circuit Court judges and masters who oversee the program.

“Law students are viewing firsthand the ways in which lawyers and judges can effect change,” Babb said. “They are experiencing a problem-solving approach to the practice of law.”