Early Childhood Mental Health Consultants
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Healthy Social-Emotional Development is the Foundation for All Child Development and Learning
Illinois Action for Children’s Early Childhood Mental Health Consultants Are Here to Support You
EARLY CHILDHOOD MENTAL HEALTH CONSULTATION OVERVIEW:
Our Early Childhood Mental Health Consultants (ECMHC) provide services for center- and home-based early care and education providers who care for children from birth-5 years old at no cost to the providers.
This service is provided through the Illinois Department of Human Services, in collaboration with Caregiver Connections and the statewide consultation program, which is available throughout Chicago and Cook County.
IAFCs Early Childhood Mental Health Consultants bring an advanced level of training and expertise and work with your team to build collaborative, strengths-based relationships. Through these relationships, we will partner with you to increase your understanding of children’s social-emotional development and the meaning behind their behaviors. Your consultant will work with you to establish goals important to you that will guide your work.
The current events related to COVID-19 can be stressful, confusing, and in some instances traumatic for many people and communities. Children are not exempt to these feelings of distress.
Illinois Action for Children is pleased to offer the opportunity for home- and center-based child care providers to participate in a no-cost, virtual early childhood mental health consultation. Consultations can be conducted via phone or video conference covering the following topics:
- Social-Emotional Concerns
- Behavioral Concerns
- Developmental Concerns
- Staff Concerns/Issues
- Working with Families
- Identifying Resources for children/families/staff
Children need to feel safe, heard, and understood. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has identified the presence of safe, stable, and nurturing adults as the most important protective factor for children and young people in the face of stress and adversity. It is important for adults to talk with children about COVID-19 to assure they receive age-appropriate, factual information, and to understand and help them process their feelings.
The greatest truth of this pandemic is we are all in this together. Each of us has a part to contribute to our fight against this virus and to bring our world back to some sense of normalcy; even children.
IAFCs Early Childhood Mental Health Consultants bring advanced training and expertise and will work with you to help you provide the best support possible to the children in your care.
EXPECTED OUTCOMES OF AN EARLY CHILDHOOD MENTAL HEALTH CONSULTATION ENGAGEMENT:
- Increased teacher and director/administrator knowledge of child development and ability to intentionally teach social-emotional learning.
- Decrease in use of suspensions and expulsion, as well as instances or perception of behavior challenges in classroom.
- Improved communication between programs and families.
- Increased SEL competencies within adults, including a decrease in adult desire to “control” activities and behaviors.
- Decreased teacher/administrator stress, burnout and turnover.
- Improved quality of relationships between parents and children, teachers and children, teachers and parents, and within teaching teams.
EARLY CHILD HOOD MENTAL HEALTH CONSULTATION APPROACH:
IAFCs ECMHC program utilizes the 360 Bridge Model for Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Framework for Relationship-based Consulting. This unique approach operationalizes the flow of the Consultation engagement into distinctive, guided phases that are rooted in the relationship between the provider and consultant.
The 360 Bridge Model aligns to and builds upon the Illinois Model for Infant/Early Childhood Consultation, that establishes a clear foundation by; defining the consultant role, identifying the competencies of a consultant, and articulating the components of consultation.
Frequently Asked Questions ?
- How much does your program cost? This service is provided at no cost to you through the Illinois Department of Human Services, in collaboration with Caregiver Connections and the statewide consultation program and Illinois Action for Children, which is available throughout Chicago and Cook County.
- Are the Early Childhood Mental Health Consultants part of DCFS? No. However, according to Illinois statues, child care providers and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultants are mandated reporters and must report suspected child abuse and neglect to the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) hotline.
- Can you conduct individual observations on a child? Yes. A parent or guardian must sign a consent form before we can observe a child individually. We also conduct general observations of children and classrooms which does not require parental consent.
- Do you share information with the school district? The only time we share information with a school district is when a parent or guardian has signed a ‘release of information’ form from the school district and requests us to do so.
- Do you evaluate children? No. If an evaluation or assessment is needed, we help families locate the appropriate services.
- Do you provide therapy for children and families? No. We help families locate counseling, mental health services or resource when these services are required.
- Does your program work with parents? We provide consultation with parents and caregivers about their child, particularly when we have been asked to do an individual observation of that child. However we do not provide parent education workshops or groups at this time.
- Do any of the Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant speak Spanish? Yes.
- Are your services confidential? Yes. We work with providers to protect their confidentiality and the confidentiality of the children and families.