Truancy has been a big problem in Caddo Parish. "Hanging around fighting develops around circle k's, it's an unhealthy situation," explains Rutherford House Director, Dr. Eliot Knowles. Another problem - funding the Rutherford House, the one non profit organization in Shreveport charged with fighting truancy. "We've been chasing funding for this program for over six years," says Knowles. A fifteen thousand dollar grant from the city at the beginning of the year kept the program afloat, but was hardly enough to make the necessary changes. But recently the Louisiana Legislature came through with hundreds of thousands of dollars. "The police apprehension program is funded through that 131,000 dollars, but we are expanding our overall program to include the middle and highschool through an additional 200,000 dollar grant through the State of Louisiana," says Knowles.
Before those grants came through the center on Wyndott Street would simply process the truant, now they'll be able to offer additional services and find out why the kid wasn't in school in the first place. "We've had lice to keep them from going to school, we've had confusion from parents not knowing where to send the kid," says Knowles. If the counselors know the problem, they can address it. And if the Rutherford House shows the 300,000 dollars were well spent, it'll be there next year as well. If we can show success and I'm confident that we can, it will be refunded," says Knowles.Story by Fred Childers