Evaluation Report of the Implementation of Illinois Public Act 100-0105: Early childhood programs’ knowledge of and responses to the 2018 expulsion legislation
reportposted on 2021-05-11, 13:07 authored by Katherine ZinsserKatherine Zinsser, H Callie Silver, Qaswa Hussani, Courtney Zulauf-McCurdy
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Nationwide, preschoolers are being expelled at alarming rates, upwards of 250 a day by some accounts. Given the critical role of early childhood education (ECE) in supporting children’s school readiness, there is a grave concern that these children are being excluded. Furthermore, there is consistent evidence of racial and gender disparities in who gets expelled. Recently, Illinois became one of only a handful of states to pass legislation to curtail the overall rates and disproportionality of early childhood expulsion. As of January 1, 2018, programs funded by the Illinois State Board of Education or licensed by the Department of Children and Family Services must make every possible effort to retain a child, document their use of any and all available resources, services, and interventions. Additionally, programs are required to report on the characteristics of all children served by their program, turnover, and separations, as well as utilization of resources. If and when a program has exhausted all available resources and made substantial efforts to retain a child, only then, and with parental permission, is it now permitted to transfer the child to another program. Unlike in other states and municipalities, this new law, Public Act 100-0105, represents unprecedented coordination across state agencies, advocacy groups, and service providers. However, it remains to be seen whether this coordination will continue throughout the implementation process and dissemination of information regarding the law. To that end, we sought to conduct a preliminary investigation of Illinois early childhood programs’ current and prior expulsion practices, in addition to their understanding of and responses to the new law. Our investigation leveraged a coalition of ECE community partners who informed the design, implementation, and interpretation phases. Findings broadly point towards systematic variance in programs’ level of knowledge of the law, comfort, and confidence complying with its stipulations, perceived benefits, and unintended consequences, as well as past and expected disciplinary procedures and experiences accessing evidence-based resources and supports. Based on these findings, we recommend the following: • Future communications regarding the implementation of or compliance with legislation and forthcoming ISBE and DCFS rules should specifically target programs that are ‘least connected’ especially private center-based and home-care programs. • Increase access to mental health consultants state-wide and reduce wait time for initial consultations and observations. This may necessitate adaptations to service delivery models to include remote/video-based consultation. • Research and curate programs’ creative use of resources, problem-solving, and systems reform to disseminate to other programs through centralized resource or online community where programs can seek advice, resources, and supports. • Given pervasive misunderstanding of the legislation, it will be particularly important to ensure that rules (especially around planned transitions) are clear and feasible for programs at all resource and support levels (home-based through public school districts). • Forthcoming state-wide coordinated data collection systems will need to be carefully planned to ensure accuracy of expulsion rates and child demographic characteristics. A system for auditing the accuracy of reports and/or tangible consequences for poor or missing reports will be necessary to ensure data quality for future research and evaluation.