Expelled from Childcare: Suspension and Expulsion Practices in One State’s Community Childcare Centers

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Suspension and expulsion, typically thought of as discipline practices for high school students, occur at the early childhood level. In fact, 3- and 4-year old children are suspended and expelled from school at a rate three times that of their teenage counterparts (Gilliam, Foundation for Child Development, 2005). In many states, legislation exists preventing the suspension and expulsion of our youngest learners; however, such legislation often does not apply to community (private) childcare programs that are not receiving federal or state funding. This study attempted to comprehensively assess the prevalence of suspension and expulsion practices in one state’s community childcare centers. It explored the characteristics of suspended/expelled students, childcare program demographics, and the reasons childcare centers cited for their chosen disciplinary actions. Data from 368 participants found that 199 individual children were suspended in a 12-month period and the most common reason cited for these suspensions was that the child was hurting others. In this timeframe, 196 individual children were expelled, also most often for hurting others. The majority of administrators reported that they did not have the resources to support a child displaying challenging behaviors. Finally, the authors discuss implications for program administrators, state legislation, and funding.

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Early Childhood Education Journal

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