Dauphin County Commissioners join with childcare providers on training aimed at reducing number of children expelled from preschool programs

HARRISBURG, PA (September 15, 2018) As part of a new Dauphin County Commissioners’ initiative aimed at addressing early childhood issues that lead to problems in later life, the first of two training sessions aimed at reducing suspensions from pre-kindergarten programs.

About 100 childcare providers and parents attended today’s training at the Cross Point Early Learning Center, where early intervention specialists demonstrated techniques for addressing problem behaviors so suspensions and expulsions are not needed. A second training is planned for October 6 at Hillside Christian Fellowship in Millersburg for those living in northern Dauphin County.

“As a society, we have an obligation to not turn our backs on our children and do everything we can to help them succeed,’’ said Commissioner George P. Hartwick, III, who oversees the county’s Human Services. “A child who is expelled from pre-school and whose underlying behavioral problems are not addressed will have a hard time succeeding in school and later in life.’’

Early childhood experts have identified preschool program suspensions and expulsions as a significant concern and one reason that an estimated 3 million children are at risk of entering kindergarten not ready to learn. Nationally, out of every 1,000 children, 27 are expelled every year from child care centers and almost seven are expelled from pre-kindergarten programs, according to a 2016 Yale report cited by the federal Office of Child Care at Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families. https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/ecd/expulsion_webinar_1_basic_research_slides_21115.pdf

“Many of these children spend upward of 10 hours in child care and it's important that they bond with the provider,’’ said Suzanne Brubacher, director of Cross Point Early Learning Center, adding she is excited to see the county getting involved. “It’s bad for a child’s self-esteem if they are bounced from one provider to another and they act out more. It’s important to learn how to reach these children.’’

Earlier this year Dauphin County was one of only eight counties – and the only one in Pennsylvania – to receive a $25,000 grant from the Pritzker Children’s Initiative to begin addressing early childhood issues. Today’s training and the one in October are being funded through part of the grant.

Additionally, Dauphin County is working with the National Association of Counties (NACo), which has also teamed up with Pritzker, on various efforts to help communities across the country enhance and develop early childhood programs.

“Research shows that many times behavioral problems that are not addressed early continue to stand in the way of a child’s performance in school and later life,’’ said board Chairman Jeff Haste. “We think this training will help both childcare providers and parents.’’

Commissioner Mike Pries said spending time and money on early childhood issues end up saving more money – and heartache – in the future.

“Children who do well in school have a better chance of moving into rewarding careers and living healthy, happy lives,’’ Pries said. “By addressing problems facing young children and their families, we lessen the chances these children will get into trouble with the law or engage in destructive behaviors.’’