Truancy Toolkit


This coalition of key partners—government agencies, community organizations, and professional associations—provided crucial feedback and support.

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This toolkit was created by the California Attorney General’s Office, the Ad Council, and the California Endowment, in partnership with leaders fighting to reduce chronic absenteeism in California.

We sent communications experts to talk to nearly 1,000 parents of elementary school children who missed 10+ school days in the previous year. Based on what they learned, those experts developed this toolkit. Teachers, administrative professionals, school nurses, principals, and community leaders will find resources, tips, and research addressing a critical question: What’s the best way to talk to parents about absences in elementary school?

As you explore the toolkit, please keep in mind that parent communication is only one important piece of an effective strategy for reducing chronic absenteeism. Experts recommend a 3-tiered intervention strategy that targets specific groups of students in need:

3-tiered intervention strategy

Communication Tools

These tools to effectively communicate about attendance are based on our findings from messaging research conducted by the Ad Council.

Top 10 ConsiderationsTop 10 Considerations

Top 10 things to consider when talking to parents about attendance.

Sample Letter to TeachersSample Email to Teachers

An easy-to-use, quickly customizable email template to help teachers communicate the importance of attendance to parents of elementary school children.

Strategies for School NursesStrategies for School Nurses

Strategies for school nurses, based in part on the messaging research, to help reduce chronic absenteeism by addressing medical conditions, like chronic asthma.


Comprehensive findings from qualitative and quantitative research conducted to understand how parents of elementary school students think about attendance and how we can help shape that understanding.

Project Fact SheetProject Fact Sheet

Background on the issue of elementary school truancy and chronic absenteeism in California, project partners, and research objectives.

Qualitative Research ReportQualitative Research Report

Findings from extensive qualitative research among experts and parents of chronically absent elementary school students. This report includes detailed findings that informed the quantitative research phase.

Quantitative Research ReportQuantitative Research Report

Findings from the quantitative validation and message survey among parents of chronically absent elementary school students.

Strategy Recommendations

Recommendations for how to design a communications strategy to talk to parents about their children’s absences and how best to reach them.

Webinar PresentationWebinar on How to Talk to California Parents of Elementary School Children About Absenteeism

Presentation outlining the key research findings and the recommended communication strategy for targeting parents of children in grades K-5.

Communication Strategy and Messaging RecommendationsCommunication Strategy and Messaging Recommendations

Key insights and recommendations for how to frame your messaging to parents.

Message Channel PlanMessage Channel Plan

Recommended medial channels, outlets, and strategies for leaders who are considering a media strategy (e.g. social media, television, newspapers).

Have questions or want to add to our toolkit? Contact us!