Do You Text?

How Text Messages Can Reduce Chronic Absenteeism


Text messages are becoming the go-to-solution for addressing chronic absenteeism. Head Start centers around the country are using mobile text notifications to engage parents and educate them about the importance of regular preschool attendance for their children.


Chronic absenteeism, missing 10% or more of school days for any reason, is prevalent in early childhood education. The 2016 release of new Head Start Performance Standards means programs are moving toward using attendance data to address underlying issues of cumulative absences, spread over time.

The new requirements compel Head Start agencies to track children’s attendance as well as develop local outreach strategies for parent engagement.

To help collect and analyze the data, COPA was among the first data management solutions for Head Start to develop and integrate chronic absentee reports (241 and 241S).

>> Learn more about Chronic Abstenteeism Reports 241 and 241S.

Let’s get back to text messaging though. You’re probably asking how can text messages help reduce chronic absenteeism?

And who’s got time to text, when papers are piling up and the phones are ringing off the hook?

For a program that doesn’t have a ton of time or money, text message notifications can be a low-cost, scalable tool for parent engagement.

First, here’s why we know text messaging works.


Why does text messaging work?

Busy people need timely, targeted, and actionable information. And who is busier than a young mom or dad?

Parents already receive text message notifications with everything from medication pickup and doctor appointments, to childhood development milestones.

Apps like BabyCenter, Text4Baby, and Vroom integrate text messages as a pivotal means of communication with parents.

This is because text messages deliver information in a bite size, easy to consume format.

They’re also literally right in your pocket, making it hard to avoid the temptation to look when you see – or hear – a new message.


How Can Text Messages Reduce Chronic Absenteeism?

So, how can Head Start centers use text message notifications to curb chronic absenteeism?

Something as simple as a few text messages every week can alter parents’ behavior, helping them put their children on the path to success.

The proof is in the pudding.

An 18-week intervention experiment found that personalized text messages to parents helped cut chronic absenteeism by as much as 20%.

Text messaging doesn’t require too many resources. Programs that already have a comprehensive early childhood education data management system like COPA, can use the Notifications feature to deploy a solid texting campaign.

Clients who maintain their database in COPA are able to easily find the family and child information, create and send a group text to parents, staff, and volunteers. Filtering options by enrollment status, agency sites, and classes makes this form of communication targeted and timely.

As a 100% HIPPA and FERPA compliant environment, COPA ensures all text message notifications are kept in compliance.

>> Request a demo to see how you can set up and send group text message notifications in COPA.


Text message notifications are a savvy and powerful tool to engage parents and move them to action. If you’re curious to know more about how text messaging is being used to change behavior, check out this article from Quartz.

AttendanceWorks is another resources for a wealth of information about chronic absenteeism.

And if you’re ready to learn more about how COPA helps agencies track and analyze chronic absenteeism, email us at