Preschool Expulsions Speak To Need For Comprehensive Services
Jan 14, 2008
Why are 3- and 4-year old children expelled from state pre-kindergarten programs at extremely high rates more than three times the rates of expulsion for children in grades K-12? A report released last week, Implementing Policies to Reduce the Likelihood of Preschool Expulsion identified several classroom characteristics associated with preschool expulsion large class sizes and high teacher-child ratios, long hours of operation, and high levels of teacher job stress that indicate that our children and our teachers need more support than is currently available.
Children with severe behavioral problems are most likely to be expelled from preschools, yet they are the very children who most need high-quality early learning experiences that can support their positive, healthy development and prepare them for school and for life. The report makes a series of recommendations that support teachers and positive teacher-child relationships, including ensuring the presence of early childhood mental health consultants in preschool classrooms to assist teachers in managing challenging behavior and to support children and their families. Early childhood mental health consultation (ECMHC) can improve children's behavior and decrease hyperactivity. Yet, fewer than a quarter of state pre-kindergarten teachers report access to this key support.
States can support mental health in all early childhood settings. An example, the Michigan Child Care Expulsion Prevention Program provides mental health consultants to child care centers, serving children birth to five, in 31 counties in the state. Funded through the infant/toddler set-aside in the Child Care and Development Block Grant, the program provides child- and family-centered interventions, which include linking families to community resources as needed, and provider training on working with children with mental health needs.
High-quality child care and early education can help young children with behavioral and other mental health needs but only if interventions provide comprehensive services and supports for them and their families. High rates of preschool expulsion confirm that we need to continue to pay attention to the socio-emotional needs of children to effectively prepare them for school and beyond.