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End Child Care & Preschool Expulsion

An NCECF & TREP Project Collaboration

Some things we know... 

Children are expelled from preschool at more than 3x the rate of K-12 students.

Black children account for 18% of preschool enrollment, but 38% of children expelled from preschool.

42% of preschool educators say that Black boys require the most attention, and watch them more closely for misbehavior.

Preschool educators with access to on-site mental health consultation expel at about 1/2 the rate of those without it.

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We now have 15 years of research documenting something that still shocks most people who have never experienced it for themselves: Each day, over 250 children are suspended or expelled from preschool in the United States. Although we primarily hear about exclusionary discipline practices in high schools, children in child care and preschool programs-- including those as young as two years old-- experience suspension and expulsion at alarmingly high rates. Children in child care and preschool settings are expelled at a rate three times higher than are high schoolers.

Some of the early reports on preschool exclusion showed that North Carolina is among the states with a high rate of prekindergarten expulsion, with 13 per 1,000 children expelled from state-funded preschools, compared to the national average of 7 per 1,000 children. In contrast to this high rate of preschool expulsion, North Carolina has a dramatically lower rate of only 2 per 1,000 students expelled in the K-12 system. This pattern suggests that part of the problem may be the resources available to early educators for supporting children exhibiting behavior challenges and the guidelines that govern the use of exclusion as a disciplinary measure in preschools.



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We will release a policy and practice brief each month over the 2023-24 academic year.

End Early Exclusion
  • Policies & Guidelines
    North Carolina's statewide guidance aimed at reducing early childhood suspension and expulsion. ​ The US Department of Health and Human Services spotlights state-wide progress in policies and supports. This report presents trends and best practices in creating and monitoring policies that regulate disciplinary practices in preschools. ​ This interactive guide from provides step-by-step guidance on how to create a structure that parallels multi-tiered systems of support, in early childcare settings. ​ The Centering Black Families: Equitable Discipline through Improved Data Policies in Child Care report examines how equitable data practices can uncover important, program-level information that tells the story of current realities, and center racial equity in data planning and collection.
  • Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Supports
    Checklists to help teaching teams be systematic in examining the potential contributors to challenging behavior. ​ Learn how to help children with big feelings in the classroom, and try teaching a calming technique for students to use when the big feelings arise. Use these resources from CASEL to understand and act on using social-emotional learning as a level for racial equity in your school and classroom. Download a toolkit for early childhood organizations to promote mindfulness practices among educators and students. Download a toolkit for learning about and implementing culturally responsive classroom setup and behavior management strategies to promote social-emotional wellness across racial, linguistic, and cultural differences.
  • Partnering with Parents and Caregivers
    Share these activities that can help support a child's social-emotional development at home, and check in with parents about which activities they and their child liked best. (Disponible en espanol). ​ Parents and educators can watch these videos from Sesame Workshop about problem solving, calming down, and building resilience with young children. ​ Complete this module for building parent-teacher relationships. This interactive resource can help collaboration with parents of early learners. Learn to build partnerships between parents and early childhood educators using this resource from an early childhood mental health initiative.
  • Early Childhood Mental Health
    Read an overview of the research on the impact of early childhood mental health consultation on promoting positive and racially equitable early learning environments. ​ Learn about the role and competencies of an early childhood mental health consultant to help in the hiring and management of social workers, psychologists, and other professional development supports for early childhood educators. ​ Use these resources about developing a mental health consultation team, including information to share with parents about the process and what it will mean for their child. Explore these resources from Sesame Workshop on how caring adults, including early childhood educators and parents, can help a child cope with traumatic experiences.
  • Communication Resources to Advance this Goal
    SolutionsNotSuspensions is a bill in New York state aimed at reducing the use of suspensions, and increasing the use of restorative practices, for students. Their website provides easy to follow information for individuals to advocate directly with legislators in support of the bill. ​ The Ending PUSHOUT Act is a public awareness campaign, including a House bill, that educates the public about punitive and racially disproportionate school discipline practices. The bill incentivizes schools and states to bad exclusionary discipline practices. ​ This Back-to-school Action Guide from The Sentencing Project provides an agenda of action items that schools can follow to end exclusionary discipline, tying school discipline practices to broader issues of mass incarceration and racial justice. Fix School Discipline has aCommunity Toolkit for educators, students, parents, and community members to take action towards reducing harsh discipline practices and student pushout from schools.

actionable resources

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