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A program-wide look at early identification of socioemotional and behavioral needs in Head Start programs to better serve children

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Description:
Early childhood programs, such as Head Start, that serve children at risk can implement programmatic screening procedures to ensure equitable identification of children displaying a range of socioemotional and behavioral needs. We examined administrative records linked to a program-wide mental health screening tool to examine patterns of special needs referral and identification for children within the Head Start program (N=7,301 children). Findings showed that male, Hispanic, and Spanish-speaking Dual Language Learner (DLL) children were identified with a disability at a higher rate compared to female, non-Hispanic, and non-DLL children. Children displaying challenging behaviors such as aggressive, oppositional, or disruptive behavior were identified at higher rates than children displaying shy or socially withdrawn behaviors. (author abstract)
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Executive Summary

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