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Policies addressing suspension and expulsion in state early care and education subsystems: A national census of policy alignment and integration


Exclusion from early care and education (ECE) programs creates employment challenges for families and disrupts learning for children, often differentially impacting children placed at-risk due to income, race, and disability. Federal policy guidance and changes in the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) Block Grant requirements are meant to influence states to create policies that will both regulate and prevent disciplinary exclusions, especially suspension and expulsion. We present a national census of states’ CCDF plans, center-based child care licensing regulations, and state pre-K policies addressing suspension and expulsion. Using content analysis methodology, we evaluate the presence of key policy components of suspension and expulsion prevention including data collection, parent/family involvement in the process of exclusions, accessing community resources, and the use of developmental information to inform the use of exclusionary discipline. Our results indicate that expulsion and suspension policies vary widely both across states, and within the same state's subsystems. The component found most frequently across all subsystems is an expulsion policy, with noticeable variation in specifying and defining suspension. Our findings also point to a great deal of variance in policy alignment, with pre-K including the most information on expulsion and suspension policies and prevention. As state-level policymakers seek to adopt policies that reduce exclusion in ECE, our findings point to a need to consider the importance of creating policies that protect children, especially those over exposed to exclusionary discipline, and then aligning those components within and across ECE subsystems to promote equitable access to ECE. This is particularly important for low-income families, Black children, children with disabilities, and boys. (author abstract)

Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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