Report | April 24, 2017

Kicked Out Before Kindergarten

A startling number of children in preschool and child care are being suspended or expelled. How evidence-based programs can help the kids who would most benefit from early childhood education

Every year, parents enroll their young children in preschool or child care, looking to give their kids the right start in life. However, a shocking number of children are getting suspended—or even expelled—from early childhood education settings. In fact, children in public preschools are more than three times as likely to be kicked out as kids in kindergarten through 12th grade.

Often, the children who would most benefit from quality pre-K and child care are the ones being removed. Research shows that children who exhibit challenging behaviors that lead to suspension and expulsion are likely to experience later behavior problems and academic troubles. These difficulties can set children on a path that boosts the chances they will come into contact with the criminal justice system.

More than 6,500 3- and 4-year olds are suspended from public preschool in a school year

Fortunately, evidence-based programs, such as early childhood mental health consultation (ECMHC), can support preschool teachers and child care providers in helping these children, preventing expulsion and suspension, and reducing the likelihood of later problems. Such interventions benefit not only the at-risk child and his or her family, but improve the learning environment for all the children in the early childhood setting.

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  1. Illinois*