Educational Neglect: Rethinking Intersections between the Education and Child Protective Systems

Thursday, April 15, 2010 -
3:00pm to 5:00pm EDT
Philanthropy New York, 79 Fifth Ave., 4th floor, NYC
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A Philanthropy New York MEMBERS BRIEFING sponsored by Casey Family Programs, The Rockefeller Foundation, and The New York Community Trust.

WHO SHOULD ATTEND: All funders interested in children and family issues, including child welfare/foster care, education, youth development, and disconnected and at-risk youth.


  • Who is accountable for teenagers who are chronically absent from school?
  • What interventions are most effective for chronically absent teens?
  • What government structures and programs can most effectively serve these teens? 

Imagine you are a single parent struggling to get your teenager to go to school. You know your child has been struggling with school and is two grades behind and does not like being in class with younger children. Under New York State law, a parent or guardian who does not ensure that his or her child attends school regularly can be found to have neglected the child – a situation termed educational neglect.

Many practitioners associate educational neglect with younger children who are unable to get themselves to school and whose absence may signal more serious abuse or neglect occurring in the home. In fact, over 60 percent of educational neglect cases in New York State involves teenagers (13- 17 years old), and initial research by the Vera Institute of Justice found that educational neglect reports involving teenagers rarely uncover safety concerns.

Between 2004 and 2008, the number of children reported for educational neglect in New York State increased by 34 percent. As a result, the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, with support from Casey Family Programs, asked the Vera Institute of Justice to study the state’s approach to educational neglect and to suggest strategies for improving the system’s response. There is broad consensus that a child protective investigation is not the most effective response to teenagers missing a significant amount of school. Though these cases generally do not reveal more serious abuse or neglect, they do reveal other issues that the child protective system is not always well equipped to address, including complex educational needs, conflict between parents and teens, homelessness, and mental illness.

We hope you will join us for a presentation on this work and a thoughtful discussion about teenage educational neglect and how we can more effectively serve these youth and their families.  In preparation for the discussion, participants are encouraged to review Vera Institute’s report, Rethinking Educational Neglect for Teenagers: New Strategies for New York State