Ohio implemented the Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (ECMHC) Program in 2000. The primary goal of ECMHC is to increase knowledge, awareness, resources and skills necessary for communities to meet the behavioral health needs of young children and their families. The program’s objectives are to build protective factors in young children, increase skills of parents and promote the competencies of early childhood providers, especially for children ages birth to six years who are at risk for abuse, neglect and poor social and emotional health. ECMHC targets the healthy social and emotional development of all young children in Ohio to ensure they thrive and are ready for school.
Qualitative and quantitative findings from a wide array of evaluative measures demonstrate the following strengths in the Early Childhood Mental Health Program:
In 2007, ECMH providers reported that child-specific consultations were provided for 1,163 children at risk of being removed from an early childhood setting. Of these, 1,044 children received consultation services, and approximately 90% remained in their settings.
Consultant Roles, Responsibilities and Goals
ECMH consultants collaborate with early childhood providers to help them understand and problem-solve challenging child behaviors, both in and out of the classroom. Consultants provide a receptive atmosphere to explore cultural differences and workplace conflicts and help others. They also provide staff with specialized workshops, training, support groups and team-building exercises. In addition, consultants assist early childhood providers in understanding and incorporating mental health perspectives in their work and to use their own roles, skills and experience to:
Services include on-site child/family focused technical assistance to parents, teachers and staff; resources for parents, including art therapy, play therapy or physical health referrals and training and professional development. Consultants offer interventions for children and respond to the centers’ programming needs, which include providing family enrichment activities and modeling helpful interactions with children.
Logic Model Development
In 2007, a series of five regional interactive trainings entitled “Building the Framework: Using Logic Models for Comprehensive Evaluation of Early Childhood Mental Health Programs" introduced the use of logic models to link Early Childhood Mental Health program activities with client and program outcome data. The logic models lay the foundation for future state funding and required reporting, and participants were encouraged to examine how their programs produce outcomes required by the Ohio Department of Mental Health Early Childhood Mental Health Initiatives. An additional two Logic Model follow-up sessions were held to share the results of the regional forums and to gather additional comments. The report has been finalized and has been used to assist in providing evidence of ECMH effectiveness.
Funds were earmarked in the FY 08-09 state budget for ECMH Treatment. An request-for-referral process resulted in 11 boards being recommended to receive funds for an 18-month project. Additional funds were located and two additional boards will also be funded for FY 09. The grant’s purpose is the implementation of evidence-based practice in Ohio through increasing availability and penetration of early childhood mental health treatment. This grant seeks to support and enhance a significant public investment in the health and education of Ohio’s youngest children and their families. Early childhood initiatives are a top priority in Ohio.
Reporting and evaluation forms:
Previous Early Childhood Mental Health reports: