California law expands mental health support for preschoolers
- California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill that increases access to mental health services for children in preschool and child care facilities.
- The law allows preschool and child care programs to use their state contract funds for mental health consultation services. The goal is to reduce expulsions by addressing the root causes of the behaviors that trigger them in the first place.
This new law expands upon a November 2017 statute that prohibits expelling children in state-subsidized preschool programs before following a comprehensive set of steps to avoid it, as reported in EdSource.
Nationally, children in preschool are expelled at more than three times the rate of students in grades K-12, according to research from the Yale Child Study Center. While expulsion rates vary considerably depending on facility type, race and gender, what remained consistent was how the chances of expulsion decreased significantly with access to classroom-based behavioral consultants who provide teachers with assistance in behavior management. “Classroom–based behavioral consultation appears to be a promising method for reducing prekindergarten expulsion,” wrote Walter S. Gillam, the study's lead researcher. “When teachers reported having access to a behavioral consultant who was able to provide classroom-based strategies for dealing with challenging student behaviors, the likelihood of expulsion was nearly cut in half.”
The California law is a move in the direction of better equipping teachers who work with the youngest students to deal with behavior issues. “We don’t want to just prevent preschool expulsions; we want to remove the need for them,” Scott Moore, CEO of Kidango — a nonprofit that provides early learning and behavioral health services — and the bill's sponsor, said in a press release.
- EdSource California moves to curtail expelling children from preschool — yes, preschool
- State of California Legislature AB-2698 California state preschool programs: general child care and development programs: mental health consultation services: adjustment factors
- Yale University Pre–K Students Expelled at More Than Three Times the Rate of K–12 Students
- Edward Zigler Center in Child Development & Social Policy Timeline of Research, Commentary, and Policy Regarding Preschool Expulsions and Suspensions