New truancy service provider

SONIA BEAL
Last updated 16:00 27/12/2012

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A Christchurch-based youth development organisation has won the tender to be Marlborough's truancy service provider from term one next year, following a national shake-up of the system.

Te Ora Hou Otautahi aims to build on the truancy service already being offered in the region and will retain the services of Marlborough truancy officer Stu Phillips, general manager Jono Campbell said.

The Ministry of Education has combined New Zealand's two truancy providers: the District Truancy Service and Non-Enrolled Truancy Service, respectively run by schools and the ministry.

The Marlborough District Council, via Safer Communities Marlborough, had provided the Education Ministry-funded truancy service to schools in Marlborough under the District Truancy Service for more than nine years.

The contract ended on December 20.

But Mr Campbell said Te Ora Hou Otautahi had worked with Safer Communities to keep them on as they had the advantage of already having an understanding of their community's needs. The organisation also wanted to continue to build on the good record of tackling truancy in the region, he said.

"Our priority is to support them to continue providing the quality work they have been doing.

"We also want people to recognise that young kids not attending school are a problem that involves the whole community."

Te Ora Hou Otautahi also aimed to sub-contract truancy services to existing providers in Kaikoura, Nelson, Tasman and the West Coast.

The Government has allocated an annual $9.1 million to the new service, which the ministry says will help providers target resources to where they are most needed.

Deputy secretary regional operations Katrina Casey said the reduction in service providers around the country from 78 to 18 would simplify the system. Schools would be able to build better relationships with providers and other key agencies such as social services to intervene and prevent problems.

Of the 153 truancy officers employed nationwide under the former services, about 65 had asked to be considered for roles with new providers.

The service would take the best of the previous system and develop new ways to be more responsive to the needs of learners and their families, particularly Maori and Pasifika communities, Ms Casey said.

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- The Marlborough Express

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