I have seen quite a few articles and videos over the last year or so talking about the connection between school attendance and poverty. This week I read an article on Upworthy (link below) about Whirlpool donating washers and dryers to schools and how it has made a significant impact on kids showing up. The article describes situations where kids were not coming to school simply because they did not have clean clothes to wear. One eighth grader said, “People don’t talk about not having clean clothes because it makes you want to cry or go home or run away or something. It doesn’t feel good.” According to the article, during the program’s first year participants “received an average of 50 loads of laundry each, and 93% of them increased their attendance rates.”

In The Mandt System, one of the key ways we help prevent people from engaging in challenging behaviors is to assess the needs they have and do our best to make sure that their lower level needs in Maslow’s Hierarchy are met first before we focus on achievement. This often requires us to think beyond and outside the current interventions we may be using, and ask questions about why a particular behavior may be occurring. It may be something as basic as the person simply doesn’t have clean clothes to wear. By meeting that need, we can help them experience a greater level of dignity and respect which empowers them to be more successful in our programs.

Doug ZehrVogt- Mandt Faculty