The Voices of Michigan’s Early Care and Education Teachers: Children’s Challenging Behavior, Expulsion, Disparities, and Needed Program Supports

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Michigan policymakers have a long history of leadership in addressing the social-emotional needs of the state’s infants and young children so that they can learn and thrive in their homes and in early care and education programs. The state’s investments in healthy social-emotional development of very young children include home visiting services by infant mental health consultants from the prenatal period through the first year of life and a highly regarded infant and early childhood mental health consultation (IECMHC) program designed to strengthen supports for infants and young children with challenging behavior in early care and education (ECE) settings.1 Established through a partnership between Michigan’s Departments of Education (MDE) and Health and Human Services (MDHHS), IECMH consultation still serves this role in the state but reaches fewer
programs due to reduced funding.2 The State Board of Education and MDE have also developed policies aimed at preventing expulsion and suspension in early care and education programs, as well as extensive guidance concerning social-emotional learning in early care and education programs and K-12 education.

3Michigan leaders and stakeholders are now working to further strengthen a system of supports for young children’s mental health. Leaders participating in a cross-sector expulsion and suspension workgroup identified a need for current data on ECE teachers’ experiences related to children’s challenging behavior, including perceptions about supports that could increase children’s social-emotional well-being and reduce exclusionary practices in center- and home-based ECE settings. To obtain this information, a core team of leaders from MDE and MDHHS and the Head Start State Collaboration Office partnered with the BUILD Initiative and the National Center for Children in Poverty to design and implement a survey of ECE teachers in center-based and home-based ECE settings (pre-kindergarten, child care, Head Start, Early Head Start, and family child care home settings).

Key questions addressed by the survey include:
ƒ How common are different types of challenging behavior in early care and education settings?
ƒ How many children with challenging behavior, in different age groups, do teachers have in their
classrooms or child care homes in the course of a year?
ƒ What are the consequences of challenging behavior and how often does removal from the ECE
setting occur?
ƒ Are there disparities in removal of children related to race, disability, or home language?
ƒ What are the family circumstances of children with challenging behavior?
ƒ How do teachers address challenging behavior and what barriers do they face?
ƒ What supports do teachers believe will help them address the needs of children with challenging behavior?

This report presents results of this statewide survey and recommendations for further strengthening social-emotional supports for children in Michigan’s ECE settings. The following are key sections in the report:
ƒ Preview of Key Findings
ƒ Methods
ƒ Results
ƒ Summary of Findings
ƒ Discussion and Recommendations

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