Individual Submission Summary

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Examining Implementation of a Comprehensive State Effort to Reduce Early Childhood Exclusionary Discipline

Sat, March 25, 8:15 to 9:45am, Salt Palace Convention Center, Floor: 2, Meeting Room 251 C


There is currently limited research on the implementation of state policies designed to reduce exclusionary practices in early care and education (ECE) settings and on ECE providers’ use of program supports to help reduce these practices (e.g., Fox et al., 2021; Silver et al., 2021). With growing interest in policies that encourage or require ECE programs to engage in social-emotional focused professional development (PD) to reduce exclusionary practices, there is a need to understand potential barriers and facilitators of policy implementation (Loomis et al., 2022).
We examine the implementation of one southern state’s ECE exclusionary discipline reduction initiatives. These initiatives include a) a requirement that publicly funded programs receive targeted technical assistance and state approval before a child can be suspended or expelled and b) the provision of social-emotional focused PD designed to help teachers meet the needs of children with challenging behaviors.

Research Questions:
1. What types of exclusionary practices are used in ECE settings in this state?
2. Are ECE providers aware of the state’s expulsion policy and do they understand the policy?
3. What types of social-emotional focused PD do ECE providers receive?

For each research question, we explore differences between publicly funded ECE programs (i.e., state preschool program, Head Start, school-based programs, or private center-based programs or child care family homes [CCFH] that accept Child Care and Development Fund vouchers) and programs that do not receive public funds, since publicly funded programs are explicitly subject to state policy.

We administered online surveys in spring 2022 to a representative random sample of 400 licensed ECE programs using a two-stage stratified cluster design. In the first stage we surveyed leaders of center-based and CCFH programs. Center-based directors provided contact information for lead teachers. We surveyed these lead teachers in stage two. Approximately 59% (n = 235) of sampled program leaders and 58% (n = 307) of teachers responded to the stage 1 and 2 survey (Figure 1).

Exclusionary discipline was substantially less common among teachers in publicly funded programs (Figure 2). Over a quarter (28%) of teachers in all programs reported engaging in any type of exclusionary practice. This was higher among teachers in programs that did not receive public funds (38%) than among teachers in publicly funded programs (25%).
A majority (62%) of all program leaders and 40% of lead teachers reported being aware of the state’s expulsion policy. However, less than one-third of program leaders (30%) and 12% of lead teachers accurately answered questions about policy application, with those in publicly funded programs versus non-publicly funded programs demonstrating better understanding of the policy.
Most teachers (76%) reported receiving some social-emotional focused PD; there were no key differences between teachers in programs that receive public funding versus those that do not.
The full presentation will include insights on the extent to which state policy supports reach programs with greatest need, what factors predict providers’ engagement in PD (e.g., teacher beliefs), and recommendations to ensure that ECE providers understand exclusionary discipline policies and use available supports.