Success For Each Child & Eliminate the Opportunity Gap by Leading with Racial Equity

Dropout Prevention and Re-Engagement


Dropout Prevention and Re-Engagement provides skill development and case management to youth at risk for dropping out, involved in Becca, and/or in the Juvenile Justice System. Services promote achievement of diploma, GED or vocational certificate; and engagement in career planning, including:

  • Parenting programs
  • Peer support workshops
  • Job readiness training 
  • Life skills development 
  • Homelessness services 
  • Gang and violence reduction
  • School-based supports
  • Community and school-based legal advocates
  • Dropout intervention
  • Alternative pathway supports
  • Research in K-12 and postsecondary education

Save the Dates for King & Pierce County Community Truancy Boards Learning Community: 2018-19 Meeting Dates

  • King County: TBA
  • Pierce County: TBA

Cross Systems Training


Educational Advocacy

The Student Assistance Educational Advocate Program helps teens involved with juvenile justice and their families navigate the education system in order to: 

  • Re-engage all youth and their families in an Academic and Community Success Plan leading to high school & post secondary credentials
  • Improve student academic success by facilitating community connections and collaboration
  • Improve student academic success by strengthening social and academic skills


Educational Advocates help students and families negotiate with Juvenile Justice, schools, vocational programs, colleges and community agencies. Using an Academic and Community Success Plan, we help teens find ways to achieve a diploma, college enrollment, career and the ability to earn a living wage.   

What we offer:

  • Consultation for parents, school staff and juvenile justice personnel
  • Design and implementation of Academic and Community Success Plan
  • Assistance in locating and enrolling in school, college or vocational program
  • Assistance in obtaining ID, birth certificate and Social Security Cards
  • Skill building sessions and career exploration with individuals and groups
  • Screening and community referrals for high risk behaviors


  • Referred students must be returning to King or Pierce County from a DSHS Juvenile Rehabilitation Institution or be involved with Pierce County Juvenile Court.
  • Educational Advocate services are free to students, parents, schools and juvenile justice staff in participating agencies.

Positive Steps

Puget Sound ESD’s Positive Steps program and our community partners support students and their families who are chronically truant and those who have an At-Risk Youth Petition filed. Pierce County Juvenile Court, schools and other community agencies refer students and their families to Positive Steps, where they work together with an Early Warning Specialists to identify specific goals then create and implement an action plan to improve school attendance.

Assessment and Services

  • Students and parents complete assessment questionnaires including the WARNS to identify barriers to school attendance.
  • Positive Steps staff meet with the family in their home or another convenient location to discuss reasons for absences.
  • Together, the family and Positive Steps staff identify a plan to reduce the barriers to school attendance and to improve students’ lives.
  • The student is engaged in an appropriate school program.
  • When appropriate, the family is provided with Functional Family Therapy, a parent partner and/or resources from the Positive Steps team.
  • Positive Steps staff are in frequent contact with the family and student to support the plan’s implementation.
  • The family is linked to other community resources.
  • The student’s attendance is monitored to ensure improvement.

Program Partners

Pierce County Juvenile Court (PCJC) PCJC partners with Positive Steps to coordinate services & keeps students from going deeper into the court system.

Functional Family Therapy (FFT) FFT is a 12-16 week home-based counseling program that improves family communication and functioning.

Parent Partners from A Common Voice A parent partner is often provided to parents in our program. The parent partner provides encouragement; helps with navigating access to community services, parenting classes and support groups; attends court and school meetings; and advises parents about special education.

Community Positive Steps Teams
Teams are made of community members who can help connect Positive Steps students and families to local recreation and social activities, mentoring, tutoring and services to support basic needs.

Pierce County School Districts School districts work with the Positive Steps Program to support students’ improved school attendance.


  • Services are for families and students involved with Truancy Court
  • Positive Steps Services are free if the family is located in Tacoma or unincorporated Pierce County
  • Services are provided in the family’s home or other convenient community location

Referral Forms

Websites offering support for parents of teens:

  • A Common Voice – promoting networking and empowerment to families of children with challenging emotional, behavioral, and/or mental health needs.
  • OSPI Attendance & Chronic Absenteeism – Every absence, excused or unexcused, is a learning opportunity lost and can have significant impacts on a student’s success in school and life.


PathNet coordinates educational advocates from a range of youth-serving organizations, institutions and schools to offer skill development and case management to youth at risk for dropping out, involved in Becca, and/or in the Juvenile Justice System. Services promote achievement of diploma, GED or vocational certificate; and engagement in career planning. Individuals who lack a high school diploma not only have a difficult time finding a living wage-earning job or career, they are much more likely to commit crimes. The King County Systems Integration Initiative, in a 2005 study, found that 70% of youth on probation in the King County Juvenile Justice System had already dropped out or had so few credits that graduation would likely be unattainable. At the adult level, 65-70% of Washington state inmates never graduated from high school. One of the most effective deterrents to incarceration is staying in school. Concept Maps

To date, youth-serving systems continue to be challenged in coordinating their efforts to address the growing rate of dropouts. Without systematic coordination and effective programming, a significant portion of our youth will be under prepared for education and employment. Through organizational collaboration and leadership, PathNet reengages youth with the education system so that they have the opportunity to fulfill their education and career goals. Policy reform efforts are being directed toward the infrastructure to support a statewide dropout reengagement system, which allows for the pursuit of the GEDplus. The GEDplus is an alternative pathway toward the end goal of a vocation and career. Although not comparable to a diploma, the GEDplus may be a viable alternative pathway for many youth who have dropped out of school or have so few credits as to make graduation unlikely.

The Four Cornerstones of the PathNet Model

PathNet promotes four cornerstones as the architecture of the model:

  • A strength-based assessment that focuses on what the youth can do, rather than on their barriers and failures
  • A youth-driven plan designed to take what was learned in the strength-based assessment and develop a realistic, meaningful and individualized plan created by the youth
  • A care manager who is selected by the youth and supported by the system to be a significant adult who fosters their education and employment goals
  • Connectivity to education and employment training with the end-goal of a living-wage job and career


One way cannot be the only way. For youth who successfully earn a high school diploma or GED, many never go beyond basic skills in community college. PathNet is taking aggressive efforts to reconnect youth to the skills necessary for postsecondary study and employment, leading to the end goal of a career. This approach to reengagement is defined as a GEDplus–an immediate connection to the next educational/vocational step, such as community college, pre-apprenticeship, certificate programs, vocational training, etc. It is an important re-entry point for many young people into the world of work and higher education. For many, they will be the first in their family to complete a post-secondary educational experience.

Areas of Distinction

  • Alternatives to Suspension and Expulsion- identifying and promoting promising practices for alternatives to traditional discipline approaches that increase school engagement and decrease suspension, expulsion and dropout rates.
  • Educational Advocacy – provide individualized, strength-based services to youth and their families to address the barriers for students returning to school. Educational Advocates work in collaboration with school districts, juvenile justice staff, DSHS, and community agencies to help youth develop, implement and follow through with realistic and meaningful plans to enroll in post-secondary education. PathNet uses research-based practices to inform our advocates about how to engage at-risk youth in their education at every level (prevention, intervention and retrieval), and to explore what indicators and measures are necessary for maximizing impact across diverse vulnerable populations.
  • Crossover Youth Practice Model – focused how best to implement effective practices for crossover youth (youth involved in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems).
  • Youth Offender Education and Employment Training (EET) – a promising practice incorporating research-based approaches to impact youth justice, long-term workforce development and accountability for offenders. Learn more…


Partner organizations and institutions include community colleges, school districts, community based organizations, social service agencies, the justice system, and employment training agencies.

Programs and projects currently utilizing the PathNet Model:

  • PathNet Pilot Project – funded by King County Superior Court through Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration (JRA)
The PathNet Pilot is provided through the King County Work Training program. This program serves youth on probation who have dropped out of school. The evaluation and technical support of this pilot are currently funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation through the Models for Change Systems Reform in Juvenile Justice.
  • AVANZA – funded in part by Center for Children and Youth Justice (CCYJ) 
Focused on truancy and the early warning signs of dropping out including attendance, behavior, and course failure.  AVANZA project is a school engagement program that provides education and employment services to Latino students.
  • Youth REACH Pilot Program – funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation 
“Youth R.E.A.C.H” (Re-engaging in Education through Action and Coordinated Help) offers a three-tiered truancy post-filing diversion process of graduated school-based interventions, including School Engagement Workshops, Community Truancy Boards, and Case Management. Learn more…

Websites with Additional Information & Resources

Truancy Resources

Attendance is important for academic success, and unexcused absences are an early warning sign for unaddressed problems with school and future dropout. Washington law, known as the Becca Law, requires children from age 8 to 17 to attend a public school, private school, or to receive home-based instruction (homeschooling) as provided in subsection (4) of RCW 28A.225.010. Children who are 6- or 7-years-old are not required to be enrolled in school. However, if parents enroll their 6- or 7-year-old, the student must attend full-time. Youth who are 16 or older may be excused from attending public school if they meet certain requirements.

PSESD Services:


For Parents:

For Districts and Schools:

For Courts:


Community Truancy Board Resource Materials



National Institute of Justice (NIJ)

The NIJ provides research-informed best practices in the White River School District to support school climate and cultural transformation to support all learners regardless of socioeconomic background for improved social emotional learning (SEL) outcomes.

More information on Dropout Prevention and Re-Engagement research projects coming soon.