Preschool-to-Prison Pipeline

SOURCE: AP/Ted S. Warren
SOURCE: AP/Ted S. Warren

SOURCE: AP/Ted S. Warren

A new study on early childhood education finds that African American preschoolers are suspended at higher rates than their white classmates. African American children make up 42% of preschool suspensions but only 18% of enrolled children.

“At the same time that many states and communities across the country are committing to expanding high-quality early learning opportunities, alarming statistics suggest that early childhood learning environments are a point of entry to the school-to-prison pipeline, particularly for African American children. Preschoolers—children ages 3 to 5—are especially vulnerable to punitive and non-developmentally appropriate disciplinary measures. A national study by Walter S. Gilliam found that preschoolers are expelled at a weighted rate of more than three times that of K-12 students. Furthermore, while African American children make up only 18 percent of preschool enrollment, they account for 42 percent of preschool suspensions. Comparatively, non-Hispanic white preschoolers make up 43 percent of enrollment but 28 percent of preschool suspensions.

The practice of suspending and expelling children—particularly those younger than age 5—from early childhood settings can have profound consequences. These punitive measures come at a time when children are supposed to be forming the foundation of positive relationships with peers, teachers, and the school institution. Instead, they are experiencing school as a place where they are not welcome or supported, which serves as a troubling indicator of what is to come. Research shows that when young students are suspended or expelled from school, they are several times more likely to experience disciplinary action later in their academic career; drop out or fail out of high school; report feeling disconnected from school; and be incarcerated later in life.”

The study makes the following recommendations:


  • Prohibiting suspensions and expulsions across early childhood settings
  • Improving teacher preparation and education with an eye toward cultural responsiveness and racial equity
  • Expanding access to in-school behavioral and emotional support services, including early childhood mental health consultation, or ECMHC
  • Increasing funding for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program, or MIECHV
  • Supporting a diverse teacher workforce and pipeline
  • Promoting meaningful family engagement strategies

Check out the full report at:


Day 1 of the Zealous Advocacy Conference!


Rep. Armando Walle (House District 140) speaks to juvenile advocates at the 14th Annual Zealous Advocacy Conference

This year’s Conference topic is the Intersection of Race, Gender, Adolescent Development, and Juvenile Justice. This morning, we had the pleasure of hosting the Honorable Darlene Byrne as our Keynote Speaker. Judge Byrne’s presentation addressed the need to make the juvenile court system a more dignified and less traumatizing process for both children and parents.

Now, Representative Armando Walle (House District 140) and Representative Gene Wu (House District 137) are holding a Legislative Session. Representative Walle made an important point that all attorneys working with children should keep in mind: “children don’t have lobbyists.”

We are excited for our remaining presentations this afternoon,  including a judicial panel on Crossover Youth from the Honorable Michael Schneider and Honorable Katrina Griffith.

By Brittany Vanek, Student Staff

The Child Left Behind

Studies conducted by the Migration Policy Institute and the Urban Institute show that deportation of a parent has a dramatic effect on the child, similar to when a child’s parent goes to prison. Washington Times reporter, Lydia DePillis, wrote:

The Obama administration has already expelled about 3.7 million people who were living here illegally between 2009 and 2013. While the pace of deportations has slowed dramatically, with a shift in enforcement towards weeding out those who have actually committed crimes in America, the Migration Policy Institute estimates that several hundred thousand children have either one or no parents in America as a result. And 5.3 million children are still living with unauthorized parents, constantly under threat of losing one or both.

We’re just starting to understand the impact that losing a mother — or, much more often, a father — can have on those kids’ development.

A pair of reports issued Monday paint a broad picture of how kids have been affected by deportations in the past several years. Both were funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and conducted by the Migration Policy Institute and the Urban Institute, with help from research and input from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The first, a survey of smaller-scale studies conducted on unauthorized immigrant families, shows that the effects of losing a parent to deportation are basically the same as what happens when a parent goes to prison: Kids can become homeless, bounce around to different family members, lose focus in school, and undergo long-lasting psychological trauma. One study found that family income dropped by 70 percent in the six months following a deportation, and one quarter of families in that situation reported going hungry.

The second, a synthesis of field work at study sites in California, Florida, Texas, South Carolina, and Illinois, found all of those impacts — and also identified gaps in social services that are ill-equipped to handle the special needs of children whose families have been ruptured by immigration rules.

“Study participants reported that children refused to eat, pulled out their hair, or had persistent stomachaches or headaches,” the authors write. “Others turned to more self-destructive outlets such as cutting themselves or abusing substances.”

Find the full article at:

Find the report at: