Truancy officers, also called attendance officers, play a critical role in America’s educational system and help protect child welfare. Most states dictate compulsory school attendance for children 5 to 17, although laws vary by state and some cap required turnout at 10th or 11th grade.
A truancy officer may be employed by a law enforcement agency, the courts or the school system. You must be interested in working with children of all ages, parents and educators to be a successful truancy officer. No matter who employs you, if you pursue a career as a truant officer, you fulfill a critical role and serve as a liaison between the school, teachers, administrators, parents, and possibly the court system.
One of the best ways to get started is to earn a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. Let’s look at what you can expect if you work as a truancy officer, skills required and why this career is vital to communities.
Truancy Officer Job Description
The core function of a truancy officer is to ensure compliance with state and local school attendance laws. You usually won’t get involved when a student has a handful of absences but you will investigate occurrences of ongoing truancy. Ultimately, your role as a truancy officer is not to punish students that miss school, but to determine the cause and help resolve chronic absenteeism.
Responsibilities of a truancy officer:
- Maintain knowledge of state, local, and school system guidelines on attendance.
- Interpret pertinent laws, court verdicts, and school handbook policies on attendance.
- Gather and assess attendance data at a school, groups of schools, or a district.
- Monitor occurrences of extreme absenteeism, unexcused absences, and excessive tardiness.
- Look for patterns that indicate a student may be at risk.
- Locate students that are habitually missing from school.
- Determine the underlying cause of ongoing absences.
- Meet with parents and students to discuss attendance issues.
- Work with teachers to implement absence-mitigation strategies.
- Ensure compliance with compulsory attendance laws.
- Write and submit case reports on investigative findings and resolution.
- Report issues of concern to child services or law enforcement.
Average salary for truancy officers and job outlook:
The critical position of truancy officer, at the intersection of law enforcement and social work, has an anticipated growth rate of about 6 percent, similar to probation officers, which is average among all career fields. Salary for truancy officers can vary widely depending on whether you work for a law enforcement or social services agency, county government or board of education.
Starting salary can be in the mid-$30,000 range, but if you have a bachelor’s degree, you could enjoy a significantly higher pay rate, closer to the mid-$50-$60k range. This position may enjoy significant benefits in addition to a competitive wage. Positions in public service often have excellent pension and retirement plans, plus you could qualify for student loan forgiveness.
The Importance of a Truancy Officer
Data indicates that more than six million students in our country have chronic absenteeism. Of these, some are victims of domestic violence, neglect, homelessness, or unfairly tasked with caregiving younger siblings. Others miss school because of bullying or learning disabilities. When a child misses school, they are at risk of poor grades, reduced social interaction with classmates, and, ultimately, dropping out. As a truancy officer, you can change the lives of at-risk students and make a tangible difference in their quality of life and help ensure they receive the education and opportunities they deserve.
Get Started Now at Virginia Wesleyan University
If you care about the welfare of children and want to be part of a system that can positively impact and improve educational outcomes for students that might otherwise suffer academically or drop out, you could be an excellent candidate for a job as a truancy officer.
Pursuing an online degree in criminal justice from Virginia Wesleyan University can ensure you have the skills you need to pursue this worthwhile career. Some of the benefits of VWU’s online Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice program are affordability, financial aid, faculty with advanced degrees, a veterans’ services team and a simplified admission process that doesn’t require GMAT, ACT, or SAT.
Request more information from Virginia Wesleyan University to complete your Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice degree.