California began enforcing its truancy law back in 2011. Still, people in Kings County are finding not all parents are taking the law seriously. So, Kings County Behavioral Health is revamping their program to try to help parents keep their kids in school.
Last school year, Kings County Behavioral Health says they referred more than 200 parents to the Kings County District Attorney's office after they failed to complete a course on why it's important to bring your children to school. The program is mandated by the state's education laws once a child is determined to have missed too much school or deemed truant.
"All the parents that were serving through this program at this point were referred through SARB, or Students Attendance Review Board. They could have been referred at their local school level or at the county level," said Ahmad Bahrami with Kings County Behavioral Health.
The psycho-educational class used to be an 8-week course, but now, Kings Behavioral Health has revamped it to be just one full day. Still, last month only five of the 25 parents told to take the program showed up.
"Our theory is that the same issues that are contributing to the truancy may be the same reasons why they didn't show up. So it kind of I think for us makes it more worthwhile and puts emphasis on why we really need to do this to try and address some of those issues or causations," said Bahrami.
Bahrami says their department helps provide services and transportation for parents to help them with whatever they need. Sometimes, though, the help isn't enough and some parents face criminal charges. In 2011, Victoria Jeff was arrested after she continuously kept her three kids home from school -- telling investigators she simply slept in. She even moved school districts to try and avoid prosecution.
"So a lot of times when kids are out of school they're not getting those meals, they're not getting the screenings, they're not getting the services they could get, they're not getting the socialization, and of course they're not getting the education," said Bahrami.
Kings County Behavioral Health is also taking part in a statewide conference on truancy that'll be in Lemoore next month. They're hoping the more parents they can reach, the more kids will stay in school.