Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (IECMHC) is a prevention-based service that pairs mental health professionals with adults who work with infants and young children. IECMHC supports caregivers throughout all early childhood educational settings, because children need adults who are emotionally and physically available to meet their complex needs. This project builds on significant gains over the last four years of the Center of Excellence (CoE) with the goal to promote wide scale availability of IECMHC services in state, tribes, and communities to reduce the impacts of adverse childhood experiences and to promote equity for young children and families. In the last four years, we have observed divergent content and implementation in many IECMHC programs and an IECMHC workforce that needs TA and resources to meet the needs that children and families face. Furthermore, we continue to see children of color being under-served throughout early childhood educational (ECE) settings.
Therefore, to advance the field of IECMHC and its services, we have identified five main areas where effective, evidence-based technical assistance (TA) is needed: (1) equity; (2) workforce; (3) policy/financing; (4) research and evaluation; (5) programs/models.
Planned activities support these five objectives. To promote equity, our team will create and disseminate evidence-based resources aimed at closing gaps in disproportionate treatment of children of color in ECE systems. To support a robust IECMHC workforce, our project will increase the number of qualified mental health consultants within the field and their capacities to identify and treat young children exposed to substance misuse. Addressing policy and financing, this project will support states, tribes and communities by developing sustainable financial strategies for IECMHC models. For research and evaluation, we will advance the evidence base for effective IECMHC programs. We will convene IECMHC program representatives, including tribal, state, and community partners, using Model Summits to move existing programs from evidence-informed to evidence-based across all ECE settings. Lastly, we have invited a Consultation Council of major stakeholders across public and private sector ECE settings to unify the vision and messaging for the field and disseminate this work.
Led by the Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development (GUCCHD), this project represents a unique consortium of leaders in the IECMHC field (i.e., The Children's Equity Project, the RAINE group, the Education Development Center, Tulane University). Together with the Health Information Group at Georgetown University, this CoE IECMHC will provide technical assistance to advance policy and practice and reduce the risks of serious emotional disturbance and the misuse of legal and illegal substances on the lives of young children. Over five years, this project will serve approximately 800 individuals annually and 4,000 total - increasing capacities of professionals and families to care for young children.