Thank you for your interest in becoming a volunteer with the Truancy Intervention Project! Here are the answers to our most frequently asked questions. If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact us.
If you are interested in volunteering with the Truancy Intervention Project, please complete the registration form and we will contact you for our next seminar.
Experts agree that truancy is the first sign of trouble, a gateway to crime, and that high school rates of truancy are linked to daytime burglary rates and vandalism and are a known risk factor for serious juvenile delinquency.
1 GS Department of Corrections, 2003
2 Kids Count, 2006
As a partnership between the Fulton County Juvenile Court, Fulton County School System, Atlanta Public Schools, and the Atlanta Bar Foundation, the Project provides volunteer partners to children who are involved with the juvenile court system due to excessive absences from school. The Truancy Intervention Project also has an early intervention initiative, which partners volunteers with children and families to intervene at the school level, before a juvenile court referral becomes necessary. The main objective of the Project is to provide early, positive intervention when children are noted for excessive school absences. The Project's real hope is that once the reasons for the absences are determined and resolved, and the child returns to school, then perhaps the child's life can be redirected to a more positive and constructive future.
In order to meet this goal, the Project's volunteers serve the children of Fulton County in a number of ways:
The Truancy Intervention Project was developed and organized in late 1991 in response to the recurring factor of truancy among children who appeared in Juvenile Court. In 1994, over 15,000 children passed through the Fulton County Juvenile Court, 30% of whom were under 13 years of age. The Juvenile Court observed that truancy was an early warning sign for these children.
The Project currently has nearly 200 volunteers and has served over 10,000 children since its inception.
The Project asks that upon completion of training, a volunteer commit to serve for one year or until the case assigned to him/her is closed. Some volunteers choose to take more than one case at a time. A volunteer can expect to spend 20 or more hours annually on a case.
In juvenile court proceedings, the attorney is appointed as both lawyer and as guardian ad litem for the child in all hearings relating to the truancy charge. In this dual role, the attorney commits to advocate for the child's expressed wants while looking after the child's best interests.
All TIP volunteers are eligible to serve as guardians ad litem in juvenile court hearings stemming from allegations of truancy. The GAL‘s responsibility is to investigate the allegations and make a report and recommendation to the court based on what is in the child's best interests.
Volunteers with the early intervention initiative commit to attending two meetings with the child and his/her family at the child's school to address the issues related to the absenteeism as well as be a role model to and advocate for the child and family to help ensure the child's successful attendance in school.
All volunteers also agree to serve as a role model and advocate for the child and to assist the family in identifying and utilizing community resources.
TIP volunteers are not mandated to report suspected abuse or neglect, but as an early intervention volunteer or as a guardian ad litem, it is recommended that you report any such suspicions to the school social worker or the school counselor. Please report any suspected abuse or neglect to TIP staff members (mandated reporters), as soon as possible at (404) 613-4741. If you are an attorney and you suspect abuse, you may ask to be withdrawn as guardian ad litem in which case the Project staff will assign a new guardian ad litem. If you feel a child is in imminent danger you can report abuse or neglect suspicions directly to the Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) or the police anonymously.
Occasionally, the information provided in the case file regarding the child's address and phone number may be incorrect. When this occurs, the volunteer should attempt to contact the child at school or through the school social worker or probation officer. Should all attempts fail, experience has shown that the child and his/her family will appear at the hearing at the time set by the court. The family is summoned to appear at least a half hour before the actual time of the hearing. This will give you an opportunity to speak with them before the hearing. Volunteers are not required to meet the family at the family's home. If you do not feel it is safe or appropriate, make an appointment to meet elsewhere.