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Change needed to help preschoolers with mental health issues

What do you picture when you hear that a child has been kicked out of school following a series of disruptive behaviors? My guess is that you’re imagining a troubled teenager. But that expelled student is three times more likely to be a toddler.

While that statistic might be startling to many, those of us who work in the early childhood education and health sectors have long been familiar with the challenges young children face in systems that were not designed to recognize or treat their unique emotional and mental health needs.

As a preschool director, I am encouraged by the recent efforts of Orange County’s Early Childhood Mental Health Collaborative. The collaborative is a new organization committed to creating system changes that address behavior concerns, underdiagnosed mental health issues, high expulsion and suspension rates, and other related needs of pre-kindergarten students.


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