Legislature unanimously supports Sen. Breen bill to reduce early childhood suspension, expulsion

Posted: April 08, 2022 | Senator Breen, Senator Breen

AUGUSTA – On Thursday, both houses of the Legislature approved a bill from Sen. Cathy Breen, D-Falmouth, to expand a pilot program designed to reduce early childhood suspension and expulsion rates. An amended version of LD 533, “An Act To Expand the Statewide Voluntary Early Childhood Consultation Program,” received unanimous votes of support.

Sen. Cathy Breen

“This bill will help ensure that we are preparing our children for the future by keeping them where they belong: in the classroom,” said Sen. Breen. “This early childhood consultation program provides teachers and child care providers with a research-based and compassionate approach to managing behavioral issues. It has proven successful in other states, and I look forward to seeing it succeed in Maine.”

The Early Childhood Consultation Program (ECCP), currently operating in eight counties, was created by LD 997 — also sponsored by Sen. Breen — in the 129th Legislature. ECCP makes consultants with advanced training in mental health and child development available to teachers, child care providers and parents to manage and contain the impact of challenging behaviors in the classroom. Services are provided at no cost. LD 533 will simply make this pilot program available statewide.

Maine has the second-highest rate of preschool student expulsions in the United States, and such disruptions in a child’s education can lead to the student missing out on the benefits of school and the evaluations and services that come with it. It can also cause significant difficulties for parents, including employment loss. These factors can perpetuate the child’s behavioral problems; in fact, research has shown that the No. 1 predictor for expulsion from school is previous expulsion.

The bill faces further votes in the Legislature.