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High Expulsion Rate Points to Young Children's Mental Health Needs

May 8, 2007

It's "National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day" and, researchers at the University of Colorado at Denver Health Sciences Center say early childhood is a key time for social and emotional development. Sarah Hoover was the principal investigator of a study finding high rates of Colorado children expelled from preschool for challenging behaviors.

“[This is a situation] that could have been prevented. We know that there are strategies that work with young children who have difficulties, and we need an infrastructure that's gonna support them.”

She notes that child care providers need more resources to help them identify what young children's needs are.

“What we may think sometimes is a challenging behavior is perhaps a mental health issue, or a difficulty with a young child may be a lack of knowledge in terms of the provider who's caring for that child.”

National research also shows expulsion rates are higher for preschoolers than grade school students. Hoover emphasizes that addressing young children's social and emotional needs early on helps prevent more problems later in life.

“We need to create environments and structure relationships for young children that really promote positive social emotional health.”

More information is available online at www.projectbloom.org.

Eric Mack, Public News Service - CO