Huge sparkling diamonds and words of praise were given to Truancy Diversion Program (TDP) volunteers who visit schools and motivate kids to get in the classroom, on track to graduate and on the path to success in life. The diamonds weren’t real, they were awards, but they conveyed the immense appreciation for the volunteers; many of whom got up and expressed tremendous pride for the program that is changing young lives for the better.
The volunteers, who are judges, attorneys, mental health professionals and law enforcement officers, spend approximately three hours each week to hold truancy court at schools, where they meet individually with students and their parents. They get to the heart of why the students are struggling and clear a path to help them get to school and make the grade. The volunteers know they are making a difference through motivation; they know they are getting through to the kids on the importance of their education.
Volunteers review the students’ attendance, school work, and progress to ensure that students have the resources they need to be successful. The TDP judges promote and support academic achievement using a team effort and an individual student success plan. Since 2007, the TDP has expanded from six to 80 schools including elementary, middle schools and high schools. The goal of the Eighth Judicial District Court Family Division is to continue to expand until all Clark County schools have a TDP program.
The TDP was established by Judge Gerald Hardcastle in 2002. Since 2007, the program has been overseen by District Court Judge Jennifer Elliott in collaboration with the Clark County School District. Those without a high school diploma face higher prospects of unemployment and the associated negative consequences. This collaborative effort between the CCSD has been structured to prevent and reduce youth crime, re-engage students in learning, and ultimately, reduce potential costs to our welfare and justice systems. It is a non-punitive, incentive-based approach to at-risk school students with truancy problems. A team (judge, family advocate, school personnel) works with the students and their families.
Licensed attorneys, mental health professionals or law enforcement officers interested in volunteering as a TDP judge can call 702-455-1755.