Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

MS in Public Health (M.S.P.H.)

Degree Granting Department

Public Health

Major Professor

Bruce Lubotsky Levin, DrPH,MPH

Committee Member

Kyaien Conner, MPH, LSW

Committee Member

Dinorah Martinez Tyson, Ph.D., MPH


Black early care and education, Black early childhood development, Early childhood education, Race-based traumatic stress, Racial identity


Black children are exposed to the highest rates of negative teacher perceptions and punitive consequences. Healthy People 2020 acknowledges the significance of the first five years of child development and the various factors that promote or hinder health outcomes during this time. Furthermore, it highlights the significance of quality relationships between children and their caregivers, including their ECE teachers. Overall, Black children tend to fare better academically when they are able to engage with Black educators and other ECE professionals. However, there is recent evidence Black educators in ECE settings, specifically, also uphold racialized negative perceptions of Black students that can result in disproportionate punitive outcomes. This cross-sectional study explored the potential relationship between the level of racial respect reported among ECE professionals and their perceptions of Black ECE students. Thirty-four ECE professionals completed a brief electronic survey, which included a standardized instrument that measured racial respect and a vignette that measured ECE professionals’ perceptions of children from different racial backgrounds. Quantitative results point to a statistically significant difference in positive perceptions of Black girls compared to Black boys; participants also generally reported neutral levels of racial respect overall. Qualitative findings yielded four primary themes reflecting participants’ reasoning as to why they selected a particular child as “most cooperative,” “most patient,” or “most aggressive” when prompted during the survey. While this study’s findings should be reviewed with caution due to the small sample size and therefore being significantly underpowered, this study offers a more nuanced examination of how racism impacts various health and behavioral health outcomes.