BR 'Truancy Center', first school year complete

BR 'Truancy Center', first school year complete

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The director of the Family and Youth Service Center says they worked with more than 3,000 families during the past school year.

The center opened at the start of the 2012-2013 school year, as more than just a place for kids who skip school.

Director Roxson Welch says there's often underlying reason why they're cutting class, which is what she and her staff aim to find out.

"Behavior problems come from a lot of different reasons," said Welch. "They feel like they're out of control with the school...its setting itself. They don't understand what's going on, so therefore they misbehave. Sometimes they misbehave and then they can't learn."

While it takes more than just one school year to solve the truancy and behavior problems, Welch says addressing some of these issues with parents and students is helping guide them in the right direction.

"They come in here, quite often, for really bad reasons. But after they're here, they understand that this really is a place where we really genuinely want to help," said Welch.

East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore says his office has already started seeing changes in the attitudes of parents, and he credits the truancy center.

"We also see now at juvenile court that more parents are reporting issues with their children and issues with their children not going to school and trying to resolve the issue realizing that truancy is a big deal for us," said Moore.

Moore says it's important for parents to keep encouraging kids to stay out of trouble during the summer and prepare for the upcoming school year.

Welch says she and her staff will be there to help parents do both, meeting with families face to face and making calls to check in on them throughout the summer.

"I'm looking at your grades. They weren't so great, so what are you doing for that," said Welch. "I'm looking at some of your behaviors, and it wasn't so great. So, let's talk about what you're doing this summer to make that better. I don't want you just hanging around the streets."

Welch says her staff is helping older students find summer jobs and helping find day camps for the younger ones.

As for next year, Welch has big plans for the center. She would like to add a workforce development program with a restaurant, a teen center and maybe even a midnight basketball program.

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