On the evening of Wednesday, September 25, DHS joined the Department of Education (DOE) and the Mayor’s Interagency Task Force on Truancy, Chronic Absenteeism and School Engagement for a special celebration of the “Operation Start Strong” program at City Hall.
Attended by representatives from five family shelters−including staff, students and their families− the ceremony reflected on the collective successes that have been made in reducing chronic absenteeism and in encouraging regular school attendance.
Launched as a pilot program in October 2010, “Operation Start Strong” was part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s wider Citywide truancy initiative that aimed to encourage and support children in temporary, emergency shelter. Recognized as the nation’s boldest, most comprehensive effort to combat truancy and chronic absenteeism, the Mayor’s Task Force has, since its inception, piloted innovative, data-driven programs and policies to help identify best practices for school Citywide.
At the ceremony, guests from shelter were greeted by City Hall Chair for the Task Force, Leslie Cornfield, and Family Services Coordinator for the City of New York, Maryanne Schretzman.
DHS officials including Deputy Commissioner for Family Services, Julia Moten, Associate Commissioner for Transitional Services, Joslyn Carter, Assistant Commissioner for Program Planning & Evaluation, Kristen Mitchell, and Program Administrators− Franca Okeya, Carl Myricks and Brunella Johnson− were also present.
The ceremony provided an outstanding opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of students in the DHS shelter system. DHS was proud to attend and participate in an ongoing program that helps children reach their fullest academic potential and success.