International Journal of School and Educational Psychology
Early childhoodteachersscreeningreferralBarbadosMental healthlearning
There has been increasing emphasis in Barbados and the Caribbean region on providing quality education for children with diverse special education needs. The major system for identification of students with special education needs in Barbados relies on classroom teachers to initiate referrals of students to a centralized government office. Barbadian early childhood teachers therefore play an important role in early identification, but little information is available about their perceptions and practices in fulfilling this role. This study surveyed 90 classroom teachers of young children (2–7 years) in Barbados to examine how they identify and respond to social-emotional, behavioral, and learning challenges, and their perceptions of the adequacy of structural supports (i.e., training and resources). Descriptive and inferential statistics were used to examine teacher responses. Teachers on average reported one-third of children in their classes had significant challenges in at least one domain. Few teachers reported using screening measures to assess for these difficulties, and teachers generally reported that their training in identifying young children with social- emotional, behavioral or learning difficulties was inadequate. Results are discussed in terms of implications for future efforts to improve early identification of social-emotional, behavioral and learning challenges in young children in a small island nation.