Egyptian Public and Mental Health Department has a long history of providing innovative mental health services to families in a 3 county region in rural southeastern Illinois since 1972.. A developing collaborative between the applicant and local early childhood providers has identified a gap in specialized mental health services for young children age 4-7. This critical developmental phase represents a child's entry into the academic and social world and it's estimated that around 5% have severe mental health disorder. It will promote 1) early mental health screening of children 4-7 years of age to identify those most in need 2) the training of mental health professionals in the provision of early childhood mental health consultation with local day care and preschool personnel to maximize provider competence in dealing with mental health issues such as complex trauma, mood and behavior disorders; 3) transition to kindergartne/grade school; 4) intesive family supports for children who have multi-system involvement; and 5) increased access to preventive primary care services. Money from the award will be used for emergency assistance for families most in need, start-up funds to form a non-profit or foundation that would disperse funding to the region to promote the above goals.
To the applicants knowledge there is no agency or entity locally or nationally that focuses exclusively on the mental health needs of children 4-7 years of age. Developmentally, this stage is critical because it represents the child’s entry into the social and academic world and a time when many children fall behind their peers. Serious mental health problems, such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Conduct Disorder, trauma related disorders, and mood disorders are often not diagnosed. Research that supports the effectiveness of programs like Head Start also indicate that gains are not maintained in the early grades of elementary school due in part to a drop off of intensive services that are available for children 0-5 and their families. Research also supports the implementation of mental health consultation/training for early childhood care providers and for school personnel often not trained or equipped to deal with complex mental health issues.
The applicant is the lead agency in the Local Child and Adolescent Network (LAN) that has met monthly at our agency for the past 15 years. The collaborative includes agency administrators from all parts of southern Illinois and serves as a forum for regional administrators and stakeholders to share resources and innovations, as well as to form formal and informal agreements on coordination, streamlining services, and sharing staff/locations. The applicant would promote the Early Childhood 4-7 initiative not just at our regional LAN but in the remainer of the regional LAN's in Illinois.
Resources and supports are in place to support the Early Childhood Mental Health Initiative. Local providers have already committed to the applicant agency in the form of attending monthly meetings to better coordinate services. These montly meetings are attended by the Wabash Area Development Inc. (housed local Head Start programs), the Wabash and Ohio Valley Special Education District, Early Childhood (0-3) and local day care providers. The applicant will use award funds to start a non-profit foundation that will seek to provide ongoing funding for the groups projects, which will include training of mental health professionals to provide consultation to providers and teachers, parent education and mental health awareness for families of young children, and emergency funds for families with multi-system involvement (Department of Children and Family Services, Court System/Substance Abuse, Public Aid etc).
In order to promote replication, a step-by-step manual will be created by the applicant and project director that will include the data-based rationale for starting an initiative for young children, how to form a local colllaborative, conducting a local needs assessment for the target 4-7 year old population, research on best practices for early childhood mental health consultation, performing functional behavioral assessments, and after school teacher consultations in the early grades of elementary school, fundraising, and starting a 501(C) (3) non profit. A logic model and strategic plan including training goals will be conducted with the collaboratve in year one of the initiative.
Outcomes for the Early Childhood Initiative will include:
1) Number of mental health direct service personnel trained in early childhood mental health consultation and service provision.2) Number of day care, preschool, and head start providers participating in consultation services; 3) Number of families with children age 4-7 receiving direct services; 4) Survey of early childhood providers who have participated in mental health consultation for Effectiveness in Helping Child Outcomes. Respondents rate the extent to which they believed that the program’s mental health consultant was helpful in reducing three internalizing behaviors (depression, withdrawal,moodiness) and four externalizing behaviors (aggression toward adults, aggression toward children, temper tantrums, and destructive behavior), and increasing four positive social behaviors (positive social interactions,smooth transitions, age-appropriate emotionalregulation, and nonviolent problem solving).