Nationwide, children of diverse racial, ethnic, cultural, socioeconomic, and linguistic backgrounds are too often viewed as challenging, "at-risk," and of limited intellectual capacity. Wide disparities in achievement bear witness to the ways in which the educational and social systems have failed those most in need of support. Historic discrimination coupled with changing demographics necessitates clear and intentional efforts to support young children who are racially and ethnically diverse in achieving their personal, academic, and economic potential. A primary mission of FPG is to generate knowledge about the social context in which children of color live, establish programs that produce positive outcomes for those children and their families, and use that knowledge to prepare caregivers and teachers to provide the best possible environments for promoting development and success.
Despite national attention on addressing racial injustices, which are especially pressing for Black children and families, improvements in Black children's and other minoritized children's health, well-being, and educational outcomes are still lacking. A consortium of experts who can use strengths-based data to shed light on the impact of historical and contemporary racism and inequities, and the differential impacts of programs, practices, and policies is needed. Iheoma Iruka, PhD, aims to address this through the Equity Research Action Coalition at FPG.
There is evidence that racial biases exist in early educators’ appraisals of Black children's behaviors, likely leading to the racial disparities found in teachers' office discipline referrals (ODRs) and student suspensions in elementary school. Postdoctoral Research Associate Kamilah Legette’s project, Teachers' Racialized Behavioral Appraisals: Exploring Emotion Regulation as a Mechanism to Reduce Racial Disparities in Discipline, examines the relationship between race and teachers' emotional responses to children's classroom behaviors.
The COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with systemic racism, has changed the lives of Black families and children for the worse, which has implications for their well-being not only through this pandemic, but over their life course. Black Parent Voices: Resilience in the Face of the Two Pandemics—COVID-19 and Racism illustrates how the pandemic is affecting Black families' experiences with racism and discrimination, financial security/material hardship, physical and mental health, and early care and education options.