The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word “marginalize” to mean “to relegate to an unimportant or powerless position within a society or group.” Other definitions include “the treatment of a person or group, as insignificant or peripheral, or as if they are not important.” A more focused view of marginalization of persons is social marginalization, defined to mean “relegation to the fringe of society.”
Social marginalization has occurred from the beginning of recorded time. One version of historical storytelling begins with the Garden of Eden, from which Adam and Eve were eventually excluded. The Bible continues to recount historical stories of marginalized populations who ranged from those with leprosy to those of different religions. In those times, the marginalization meant being excluded from society, and denied access to opportunities in life that others had.
Today, we are still marginalizing populations in society for various reasons. Sometimes this is done for the common good, such as prisons for those who have committed crimes. Other times, it is for the good of a few, such as the establishment of hospitals for those who need intensive medical attention not available in a community. More disconcerting is when marginalization occurs with groups of people bound together by circumstances they wish they could escape. These groups can include those living in poverty (for lots of reasons) or those who immigrate to a country because they had no choice but to leave their own.
Recently, we have seen an increase in the marginalization of a segment of our society for no reason other than they have developmental and behavioral problems that have not yet been appropriately addressed or remediated: young children. For example, in the United States, the growing rates of expulsion and suspension of young children from early care and education programs are not only surprising, but also alarming.
Let us be more mindful of the policies and practices that have allowed this to happen. All deserve to be treated equally and supported to reach their future potential. This cannot happen if young children are marginalized to the fringe of a childcare or PreK classroom, or worse, excluded altogether. The full travesty is that this is done too often because a system (or those within a system) have not been trained to appropriately address a child's needs, and marginalization is seen as a viable solution for the good of all. It is not.
Our first article by Walter S. Gilliam and Chin R. Reyes illustrates the aforementioned concerns about the marginalization of preschool-aged children. It is timely for a number of reasons. First, it focuses on the growing problem of preschool expulsion for our youngest students. Second, it focuses on the decision makers who are responsible for this growing trend: preschool teachers. Finally, it provides a tool that may assist in turning the expulsion trend around by predicting who are children at risk of being expelled from early childhood programs.
The tool, the Preschool Expulsion Risk Measure, was validated with a sample of 352 preschool-aged children across 88 sites. Predictive factors were identified, and these included classroom disruption, fear of accountability, hopelessness, and teacher stress. In addition, the data correlated with assessments of children's behavior and predicted both intervention status and probability for expulsion. The authors conclude with recommendations for the use of this tool to address preschool expulsion practices.
The next article by Amanda L. Sullivan, Elyse M. Farnsworth, and Amy Susman-Stillman examines the use of the U.S. childcare subsidy for low-income families by families of children with special needs. Data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study—Birth Cohort were analyzed to identify the types and quality of childcare received by children with and without special needs at 9 months, 2 years, and 4 years. The data suggested that parents of children with special needs used the subsidy to access out of home care, mostly at centers. The use of the subsidy, however, did not necessarily result in families accessing high-quality care. The authors describe predictors that were associated with type and quality of care, and discuss the implications of their findings for policy and practice for young children with special needs and their families.
Jenna Marie Weglarz-Ward and Rosa Milagros Santos address an important variable in quality early childhood services: inclusion. The authors conducted a review of the literature and examined parent and professional perceptions of early childhood inclusion in childcare. Twenty-five studies that addressed this area were identified through a search process and included studies on childcare providers, special educators, therapists, and parents. Topics that were addressed in the studies include professionals' prior experience with inclusion and collaborative service delivery, the quality of care for young children with disabilities in the inclusive childcare settings, and parents' decisions about childcare programs. The authors call for more research on inclusive programs, especially those for infants and toddlers.
The next article by Susan Rabinowicz and Sharon Ray examines the process of using research to inform practice in early childhood intervention. The authors describe the process as having cognitive, affective, and behavioral implications for each individual practitioner. The Diffusions of Innovations Theory and the Ottawa Model of Research Use were used to identify factors that influence this translation process for interdisciplinary/interprofessional practitioners in early childhood intervention. Multiple facilitators and barriers to knowledge translation and practice are identified and discussed in the context of improving outcomes for young children and their families.
Our last article reminds us of the power of parents. Kae Liu describes the parent-to-parent program in Taiwan. The parent-to-parent program has been a viable service delivery model to provide emotional and informational support to parents of children with special needs. The model uses experienced parents to provide support and service to newly identified parents who want support. This article examined the implementation of the parent-to-parent program with three families in Taiwan. The findings emphasize the fitness of the match between parents through initial contact and subsequent interactions. Additional findings highlight the importance of natural support between families and how experienced families provide important services to matched families; one example being the translations of professional recommendations about available services for a child. Finally, the author identifies the need for experienced families to also receive support through their service to other families. The article concludes with the reminder that a key component of the parent-to-parent program is the potential for an increase in a family's informal support network.
As always, I thank the authors in this issue who chose to submit their work to Infants & Young Children, and I thank the editorial board members who participated in the editorial process and assisted the authors with their feedback.
—Mary Beth Bruder, PhD