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Social-emotional Intervention as Justice

What is this project?


Please also see our lab motto. The social-emotional intervention as justice project has three main priorities:


  1. Create access for preschool children with behaviors that are recognized as challenging to receive evidence-based behavioral treatment and services;

  2. Ensure teachers are trained in evidence-based practices that promote positive social-emotional outcomes for all children;

  3. Support families’ self-advocacy efforts to ensure their child remains in school

Why is this project needed?


Preschool children are being expelled from school at greater rates that children in K-12 grades. This non-evidence-based practices disproportionately affect Black children, and children with disabilities. Through no fault of their own, young children are at mercy of adult decision making which does not result in equal access to a high-quality educational environment. Some of the cited reasons for these negatively reinforced adult behaviors are: 1) poor teacher training and use of non-evidence-based social-emotional strategies; 2) lack of behavioral support services in early childhood settings; 3) implicit bias; and 4) self-reported teacher stress and mental health concerns. Although several U.S. States have moved to ban suspension and expulsion of young children, children who need behavioral support will remain in low quality early childhood classrooms with no access to social/emotional/behavioral intervention services. Through a justice-oriented lens, we address this need by creating a pathway for young children to receive high-quality behavioral treatment and services while also providing training and coaching for early childhood school staff. Read more about suspension and expulsion in early childhood here.


How can I become involved in, or support this initiative?


You can become involved in, or support this project in three ways: 1) donate to Michigan State University to cover the cost of behavioral services for a child in a general education early childhood setting. Email us at for more information; 2) if you are a teacher or a caregiver of a child who has been suspended or expelled from preschool, share your story and participate in one of our research projects; 3) apply for a position in The Wahman Lab to study this issue with a diverse team of scientists. Please see our First Responders initiative for more information. 

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