Strategies for Contacting Hard to Find Youth

Strategies to Contact Youth for the PaPOS Process: Lessons from Pennsylvania Schools

Information collected from a focus group conducted with PA Schools who experienced high response rates lead to the following recommendation strategies:

Provide Pre-Notification (while students were still in high school)

  • Discussed the PaPOS process with students and/or parents; explained the purpose; provided the questions; and defined the timeline for conducting the survey. I

  • Informed the students and/or parents of how the PaPOS process was going to be managed (e.g., when it would occur, why youth were selected).

  • Presented students with the number of former students who enrolled in college or other post-secondary education or training opportunities.

  • Provided PaPOS information at the student’s final IEP meeting.

  • Outreached with students prior to contacting them for the PaPOS post-school survey.

  • Included PaPOS information with other important information sent home to parents (e.g., information about class rings, senior portraits and graduation information)

  • Established any sort of social media campaign (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to maintain contact with students for the PaPOS post-school survey

Create Familiarity

  • Explained to students and/or parents that they are helping other students like themselves by answering the questions on the PaPOS

  • Shared PaPOS survey with students and/or parents so they knew what questions would be asked and that the information being asked is legitimate, not a scam for personal information.

  • Practiced completing the PaPOS interview with the student and/or parents

  • Showed students and/or parents specific examples of how PaPOS information can be used to make school better

  • Identified the person who had a relationship with the hardest-to find-youth and asked that person to inform the youth of the PaPOS process and/or conduct the survey conduct the survey

Make Contact

  • Ensured that the person who called left a message and/or call back number so youth/families could distinguish the PaPOS caller from a telemarketer

  • Contacted family members near significant dates (ie., holidays) when youth could be in touch with family to verify or update contact information

  • Maintained a list of former student’s family members who were still in school (e.g., cousins, siblings) who may know how to reach the student who left school the previous year.

  • Varied the person who called to administer the PaPOS postschool survey to the student

Show Interest

  • Interested in the answers that the youth provided

  • Enthusiastic

  • Conveyed a non-judgmental tone with varied voice

  • Read the interview with voice inflection as opposed to a monotone voice