Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation
DCCDA’s Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation program is a collaborative effort between DCCDA’s mental health professional and the various preschool and childcare centers in the community. DCCDA provides on-site mental health consultation to childcare and preschool professionals at no charge. The consultation enables childcare and preschool staff to better meet the emotional and developmental needs of at-risk children while also increasing caregivers’ skill in dealing with the children and providing educational information to parents.
DCCDA offers child-centered and program-centered consultation.
Child-centered consultation is initiated by childcare staff or parents as they become concerned about a particular child's problems in social-emotional development. The consultant observes the child in the daycare or classroom setting and then makes recommendations to the staff and parents about the child. Recommendations are tailored to the unique needs of the child, childcare staff and the family. They are designed to enhance and support the child’s functioning in his or her childcare center or school.
Recommendations may include a change to the classroom routine, suggestions to staff and parents on new ways to connect with the child and referrals for further assessment or services.
Program-centered consultation focuses on improving childcare staff's interactions with the children and sensitivity to the needs of all the children in their care. It will also focus on helping center staff gain the skills necessary for assisting the children on their own to develop optimal social-emotional functioning and development. DCCDA had adopted The Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL) Pyramid Model which promotes social emotional competence in infants and young children. Enrolled programs are provided training, coaching, and resources from the Pyramid Model. For more information on CSEFEL, visit their website at www.vanderbilt.edu/csefel/.
To enroll in services and/or to make a referral, please complete the Child Referral Form and submit to Marci Ramsay at DCCDA.
Children and families can connect with ECMHC through recommendations from:
ECMHC does not discriminate in admission to or provision of services based on religion, gender, race, color, national origin, or disability. Services are geared toward children ages 0-5.
DCCDA and ECMHC are committed to addressing the needs of children and families with diverse values, beliefs, racial and ethnic backgrounds, languages, and sexual orientation.
Recent neurobiological research has produced a solid base for introducing an early childhood mental health perspective into programs and systems that serve young children and their families. Neurobiologists have dramatically increased our understanding of how the brain develops during the first 3 years of life by describing the impact of environmental and biological factors on a child’s cognitive, physical, behavioral, and social development. Concurrently, research on child development and clinical practice has shown that nurturing relationships play a crucial role in facilitating young children’s social and emotional development. These bodies of knowledge provide a solid basis for introducing the mental health perspective into early childhood programs and systems (U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, 2005).
Child & Family-Centered Consultation:
Child and family-centered consultation is the most traditional form of mental health consultation. Staff initially seeks the assistance of a mental health consultant because they are worried, alarmed, or frustrated by a particular child’s behavior. The primary goal of this type of consultation is to develop a plan to address both the factors that contribute to a child’s difficulties in functioning well in the early childhood setting and the family’s role.
Programmatic Mental Health Consultation:
Mental health consultation to programs focuses on (1) improving overall quality of the program or agency and (2) assisting the program in solving a specific issue that affects more than one child, staff member, and family. Typically, the mental health consultant in early childhood settings is called on to engage staff and families in assessing a problem and designing a plan to deal with specific issues within the overall program. In programmatic mental health consultation, the consultants usually do not focus on individual children; rather, they facilitate the program’s success in reaching such objectives as developing a mental health approach to strengthen the quality of the program, including a staff development plan; developing opportunities for staff to discuss their concerns and to examine how stress affects their work; providing a forum to explore cultural differences and workplace conflicts; and providing a “safe place” in which staff members can identify, examine, and discuss their feelings about their relationships with children and families.
Marci Ramsay, LMSW
1525 W 6th Street, Suite A
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