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Why a No-Expulsion Policy Matters


Removing social and racial barriers from early learning centers

At first glance, the Early Learning Center (ELC) at Wellspring Family Services may appear as any other you’ve encountered. You’ll find bins with toys, art projects on the walls, and a whiteboard filled with ideas. But at a deeper look, you will find so much more.

Wellspring’s ELC specializes in serving young children and families who are facing or have experienced homelessness. Because obtaining enrollment in high-quality early learning programs is often difficult for families impacted by homelessness, Wellspring has created a special place for children to grow, learn, and prepare for the next steps in their development.

Here, you will find we have a no-expulsion policy. A practice that is especially critical for children experiencing the trauma of homelessness. Numerous studies, including this report from NAM, show the negative relationship between early education suspensions and future issues for the child.

When a child is expelled, it can create new obstacles for them. These may include feeling like they don’t belong, missing out on social and emotional learning, and tasking their family to find alternative care. Instead of punishing a child, our teachers acknowledge the child and work with their support team to teach important coping and life skills. Not only are they teachers, but they are dedicated advocates for our children and their families.

According to Wellspring’s Chief Program Officer Bevette Irvis, “Children who are served by the Early Learning Center have been impacted by various trauma and stressors in their little lives. When children ‘act out,’ they are trying to make sense of what they have experienced. Our classrooms are a safe space for them to do so. Rather than expelling children for big behaviors, we provide support and resources directly to them in the classrooms. Wellspring staff come together as a village of support for children, their caregivers, and teachers.”

Additionally, there is a history of children from low-income families and children of color experiencing higher rates of expulsion than their classmates. Removing expulsions from early learning centers assures one less social and racial barrier for these children.

Wellspring’s Early Learning Center provides a welcoming and supportive space where students are excited to attend, and teachers are excited to teach and support the individual needs of children. A stable place where memories are seeded, and children grow.

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