Report: 11 out of 1,000 children excluded from preschool programs in Illinois

(The Center Square) – A new report out of the Social-Emotional Teaching and Learning Lab at the University of Illinois shows preschools are still finding ways to remove children, and behavioral problems are the main reason.

Eleven out of 1,000 children are excluded from preschool programs in Illinois, according to Kate Zinsser, an associate psychology professor who led the study.

Informal exclusions are the new loophole.

“Some of these are planning transitions where the program says to a family, ‘We can’t meet your needs and we’d like your child to transition to this other program’ – often a school district program or early intervention program,” Zinsser said.

But often, families experience what Zinsser calls a “push out” or an “involuntary withdrawal.”

“A family is told repeatedly to come pick their child up early, told that the program can’t meet their child’s needs, and encouraged to take their child elsewhere,” she said.

When these kinds of exclusions are taken into account, Zinsser says the rates of expulsions are almost comparable to what they were before a law was passed to limit the number of children who could be expelled.

Aggression is usually the culprit behavior, Zinsser said; however, she points out aggressive behavior, while it can be stressful for teachers, is not unheard of.

“A lot of these behaviors are developmentally normal,” she said. “A two-year-old biting is a very typical behavior, especially for kids who are still cutting new teeth.”

It is their way of communicating that they need help with something, she said.

The statistics of excluded children break down along lines of sex and race. Boys and Black children were more likely to get removed from a program, according to the study.

The biggest determinant when it comes to whether a child gets excluded or not is actually the parents.

Zinsser pointed out that children of parents who are seen as cooperative don’t get expelled.

“To the extent that we can help parents and teachers form more positive relationships from the get-go – that seems to be a really powerful way to prevent kids from being expelled or excluded,” she said.

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