COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
P. O. BOX 2120
RICHMOND, VIRGINIA 23218-2120
SUPTS. MEMO. NO. 123
June 28, 1996

INFORMATIONAL

TO: Division Superintendents
FROM:
 
William C. Bosher, Jr.
Superintendent of Public Instruction
SUBJECT:
 
 
Changes to the Compulsory School Attendance (Learnfare)
provisions of the Aid to Families with Dependent Children 
(AFDC) Program

 
  Virginia's welfare reform initiative includes a component
  known as "Learnfare" -- tying welfare payments to the school
  attendance of school age children (under the age of 18) in
  the assistance unit.  Although in operation since July 1,
  1995, the Board of Social Services has made significant
  revisions in the program, in response to changes in
  compulsory school attendance requirements made by the 1996
  Virginia General Assembly.
  
  Mr. Clarence H. Carter, Commissioner of the Department of
  Social Services, recently sent a Memorandum to Local School
  Division Superintendents regarding revised Compulsory
  Attendance Policy and Procedure (Learnfare) of the Aid to
  Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) Program, dated June
  19, 1996. These revisions, effective July 1, 1996, reflect
  changes made to the compulsory school attendance
  requirements (22.1-254 et seq. of the Code of Virginia). 
  House Bill 375 (Delegate Cantor, Henrico) and Senate Bill
  324 (Senator Houck, 17th District) include the following: 
  
     Local school boards shall provide notice to parents or
     guardians regarding of compulsory school attendance
     requirements and enforcement procedures.
  
     The number of unexplained absences that trigger
     intervention was changed from five consecutive days
     absent to three consecutive school days absent or five
     school days absent per month or seven school days
     absent per calendar quarter.
  
     The role of the attendance officer was clarified
     related to (1) checking school census and other reports
     to prepare a list of students not enrolled and (2)
     filing a complaint before the juvenile and domestic
     relations district court. 
  
     The penalty for noncompliance with compulsory school
     attendance requirements was increased.
  
  Supts. Memo No. 123
  June 28, 1996
  Page 2
                                                           
  [Copies of both bills will be included in the Education
  Bills Passed and Joint Resolutions Agreed to by the 1996
  General Assembly, which the Department of Education will
  distribute via Superintendent's Memorandum dated June 28,
  1996.] 
  
  As a result of these policy changes, school personnel will
  no longer have to track absences for students who are AFDC
  recipients using separate benchmarks.  This will facilitate
  communication between local school divisions and local
  social services agencies for students who are AFDC
  recipients and have attendance problems.  Together, the
  local agencies can identify the most appropriate
  intervention for the student.  The combined efforts should
  reduce student truancy.
  
  The Department of Social Services has asked local social
  services directors to work with local school division staff
  to review the new Learnfare policies and procedures.
  Localities will have the opportunity to review and revise
  local policies and procedures regarding identification of
  students who are AFDC recipients and procedures for
  notifying the local department of social services of
  absences.  The local social service director is also
  requested to provide the name of a school contact to the
  state Department of Social Services by July 31, 1996.   Ms.
  Carolyn Ellis, AFDC Program Specialist at the Department of
  Social Services is available to respond to specific
  questions at (804) 692-1738.
  
  The General Assembly also provided financial resources to
  assist local school divisions with truancy reduction
  programs.  The Department of Education recently sent Funding
  Applications for Truancy Reduction Initiatives and Safe
  Schools to eligible school divisions.  Proposals should
  address linkages with the local department of social
  services for students who receive AFDC. Questions regarding
  funding applications can be directed to Ms. Marsha Hubbard,
  Specialist, School Safety at  (804) 225-2829.   
  
  Dr. Lissa Power-deFur (804) 225-2818 and Mr. Charles Finley
  (804) 225-2747, in the Division of Policy and Public Affairs
  at the Department of Education are available to answer
  questions regarding the 1996 legislation or compulsory
  attendance.    
  
  
  WCBjr/lpdf