Missouri in Top Ten for Preschool Expulsion Rates - There is an Alternative!
At SouthSide, we work very hard to address the social-emotional development of our young children - including providing early intervention for developmental delays and mental health challenges. Unfortunately, not all early childhood programs have the staff or philosophy to support helping such children succeed in the preschool setting, and often they resort to expelling children from their programs. The Edward Zigler Center in Child Development & Social Policy noted in this study that Missouri ranked in the top eight states in the country, with a preschool expulsion rate exceeding 10 per 1,000 children.
It is possible to keep children engaged in preschool even when they struggle, but it takes great intention and specialized staff. We work closely with teachers and parents to coordinate strategies best suited to each individual child with the help of our Mental Health Coordinator, Mentor Teacher, Disabilities Coordinator, skilled teachers and para-professionals who all work together on behalf of children with challenging behaviors. Even when we find we are not the best resource for a child, we will first connect him or her to a community partner who can address his or her needs. In St. Louis, Our Little Haven, Family Resource Center and Family Support Network are three excellent resources for children with mental health concerns.
We hope that early childhood professionals will continue to seek alternatives to expulsion, by working with mental health professionals and helping staff and parents to understand and practice positive behavior techniques. It truly does take a committed village to make this possible, but it can be done!