Expert: Preschool kids expelled at rate 3 times higher than K-12 students

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PHOENIX — Young children are being expelled from preschool and other child care services at a rate three times higher than K-12 students, according to an expert.

The majority of children get expelled due to behavioral reasons and Dr. Walter S. Gilliam, a child development expert at Yale University, said often the preschool does not have the resources they need for them.

Gilliam said this is an issue that can bleed into the child’s later years because kids who are expelled from preschool are are 10 times more likely to be expelled in K-12 and 10 times more likely to drop out of high school.

“Every year we expel more than 65,000 preschoolers,” he said. “We can provide the support for teachers and programs to meet the needs of kids.”

Parents who worry about their child’s behavior in preschool or childcare can help rectify the situation by becoming friendly with their caregivers and teachers, Gilliam added.

But in order to help curb this problem, Arizona can do more to help support its teachers, he added.

“Teacher job stress is one of the better predictors of expulsion,” Gilliam said, adding that teachers with diagnosed depression tend to expel at twice the rate of teachers without depression.

Gilliam said Arizona is one of the more progressive states in the U.S. when it comes to solving this issue because of a statewide system of early child mental health consultation called Smart Support.

Smart Support aims to increase the “skills and expertise of the adults in the child’s life, rather than providing therapeutic services directly to the child.”

Services like these, according to Gilliam, allow the caregiver to get help and advice from professionals while ensuring that the child does not lose their placement in the preschool or child care.