Organizers of a new Caddo Parish program aiming to combat truancy hope that it will also help reduce juvenile crime.

The Truancy Assistance Service Center opened Aug. 10 in Caddo School’s Welfare and Attendance Center, in the 1600 block of Murphy Street. TASC serves Caddo students from kindergarten through fifth grade. Members of Volunteers for Youth Justice, the Caddo Parish School Board, the Caddo Parish District Attorney’s Office and a variety of other local agencies say that attacking truancy at an early age will have a positive impact on the future of students’ education while reducing juvenile crime.

“Truancy has become a very important matter in our parish, where the numbers are increasing instead of decreasing, especially in the elementary age,” Kelli Todd said.

Todd is the executive director of Volunteers for Youth Justice, a non-profit agency collaborating with CPSB, the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office, the Caddo DA’s Office, the Shreveport Marshal’s Office, Shreveport Police Department and Willis-Knighton Health System to implement the TASC model for elementary students in Caddo Parish.

Todd said that while working with CPSB, VYJ has seen truancy numbers gradually decrease in recent years. However, after seeing the numbers nearly double in elementary students last school year, VYJ met with the school board, the DA’s office and Willis-Knighton to develop the program.

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By Miles Jay Oliver

Via Shreveport Times