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Issue Brief: Early Care and Education

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2007
18 pages
This first of a three-part examination of the critical issues, directions, and alternatives for the early care and education of children addresses trends in and assessments of the preschool care and education of children, followed by the authors’ recommendations for improving preschool care and education.
There is increasing concern among parents and professionals about the exclusion of young children with behavioral difficulties from current programs of early care and education. Estimates show an increase in the number of preschoolers (ages 3-4) who have been expelled from preschools. There has been little research on the factors that are influencing this trend, including the profiles of children most at risk for preschool expulsion. Another trend is the sharp increase in the preschool enrollment of 3-5-year-old children in the past three decades. Many States are moving toward universal preschool systems with mandatory requirements and performance expectations. Still, access to high-quality early education programs is inaccessible for the majority of families who cannot afford it. Research has concluded that early intervention service systems generally are fragmented, poorly coordinated, and inadequately staffed. The authors recommend an investigation of preschool teacher competencies in behavioral intervention, so as to prevent children’s expulsion due to behavioral problems. Also recommended is an indepth study of the relationship between program-quality factors and child expulsion, as well as a study of behavioral antecedents that may contribute to a student’s expulsion. Another research recommendation is an examination of the impacts of single parenting on children’s readiness for preschool, parent’s ability to intervene when behavioral problems arise, and parents’ ability to advocate for and coordinate with preschool staff for support services when children are at risk for expulsion or disciplinary action. Other recommendations pertain to collaborative relationships among parents, teachers, service coordinators, and pediatricians/family doctors. 48 references

Date Published: April 1, 2007