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This report presents findings from a survey of Maine’s early care and education (ECE) teachers and providers about their experiences related to young children with challenging behavior. These experiences included young children displaying different types of challenging behavior, children leaving the program due to challenging behavior, and teachers’ and providers’ efforts to address the needs of children experiencing behavior problems. The survey also asked teachers and providers about the resources they need to help them meet the needs of young children with challenging behavior and promote their positive social-emotional development.
The Social-Emotional Learning and Development (SELD) Survey was part of a larger study assigned by a committee of the Maine State Legislature to the Maine Children’s Growth Council and two state agencies. In June 2015, the Maine State Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs asked the Maine Children’s Growth Council, the Department of Education, and the Department of Health and Human Services to undertake a study of conditions affecting the social and emotional learning and development of young children in Maine and develop recommendations to strengthen supports for young children’s well-being and growth in this critical domain. The committee charged the state departments and the Growth Council to establish an ad hoc committee to gather data and information on current policies and programs, as well as young children’s social-emotional status in Maine, and to partner with national organizations to help conduct this work. In addition to the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP), which led the design and implementation of the SELD Survey, two other national organizations participated in the larger initiative: Ounce of Prevention and ZERO TO THREE.
The Maine Children’s Growth Council led the work of convening stakeholders with an interest in the design of the survey and use of the results to form recommendations. Established by statute in 2008, the Council is charged with promoting sustainable social and financial investments to support the healthy development of Maine’s young children and their families and working with a diverse group of legislators, business leaders, providers, parents, researchers, community leaders, and government offcials to build a unified, statewide early childhood services system. Another key partner in the survey and the larger study was Maine Voices for Children, the state’s leading child advocacy organization. Through its ongoing discussions about policy with stakeholders in the early care and education community, this organization created wider awareness that teachers in early care and education settings were reporting diffculties addressing the needs of young children with challenging behavior. The efforts of Maine Voices for Children to bring this issue to light led to the larger study conducted by the Growth Council in collaboration with the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services, and to the SELD Survey.