In any given year, 20% of children in the United States will be diagnosed with a mental health disorder. Diagnosable mental health disorders and delays in social-emotional development can significantly impact a child’s behavior and ability to participate in an early learning setting. Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health consultation strengthens the capacity of staff to understand and respond appropriately to the social-emotional and mental health needs of all children and families. When children feel acknowledged and understood, they are able to build meaningful relationships within the childcare setting. This results in decreased negative behaviors such as hitting, biting, tantrums, and withdrawal. Additionally, proactively addressing each individual child’s social-emotional needs leads to improved peer relationships, resulting in a calmer, more peaceful classroom setting.
Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health consultation services are designed to support early learning professionals in a variety of settings, including Head Start, Early Head Start, preschool, home visitation programs, childcare centers, and in-home childcare environments. Consultation services are provided by a child mental health specialist, with specialized knowledge of infant and early childhood social-emotional development.
The services provided by the Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant vary depending on the needs of each individual client. Services can be provided on a one-time or ongoing basis and can include:
- Collaboration with professionals and staff to understand how to respond appropriately to a child’s social-emotional and mental health needs within the early learning environment
- Collaboration with professional staff to understand how to respond appropriately to the whole family system and how to understand the child’s behavior in the context of the family system
- Observation of early learning environments to provide feedback regarding the staff’s ability to meet each child’s social-emotional needs
- Child-specific observations, recommendations and referrals, and collaboration with family
- Staff professional development, training, and education regarding mental health needs and emotional regulation
- Provision of focused feedback and recommendations regarding any concerns related to social-emotional development and mental health
- Provision of individual reflective supervision or group reflective case consultation as indicated
Relevant Education and Training:
- Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) (2015)
- 2 year post-graduate certificate in infant mental health from the Barnard Center for Infant Mental Health and Development (2013)
- Certified Clinical Trauma Specialist (2015)