Meeting children's social and emotional health is an ever-growing aspect of the work of early childhood educators and care providers. The first five years of a child's life are the time when children develop the capacity to experience, regulate, and express emotion; form safe and trusting relationships with others; and explore their environments.
The quality of adult relationships in a child's life, including those in the child's care-giving environment, plays a critical role in shaping overall social and emotional health. Professionals in the field are often the first people outside of family members to be able to understand an infant's, toddler's, or young child's specific personality and needs, and to recognize when that child is struggling with significant emotional or behavioral difficulties.
Addressing these needs in their earliest stages leads to children who are confident, intellectually curious, capable of close interpersonal connections, and more successful in school. With stable, supportive relationships provided by caregivers who are adequately trained and supported, children -- and society at large -- reap the short- and long-term benefits of quality early child care.
Unfortunately, providers often lack resources and support needed to educate and nurture children with challenging behaviors. Our Early Childhood Support Team recognizes that a collaborative approach is essential to successful early intervention. Educators and care providers working with parents and qualified mental health consultants are better prepared to respond to immediate social-emotional challenges and to help prevent more serious mental health problems in a child's earliest years.
Our staff of licensed, experienced mental health professionals specialize in early education and care, and bring a strengths-based, relationship-centered, and emotionally responsive approach to our work with families and providers.
The Collaborative's Early Childhood department provides programs with on-site mental health consultation services. These consultations involve
Consultations can take place on a regular basis (for example, monthly or bimonthly) or as needed. Most often, our work with programs focuses on individual children, but it may also involve discussions of broader program issues such as learning environments, curriculum development, adult/child interactions, parent/provider communication, and cultural diversity.
Consultations are available to identify the need for further evaluation in a particular area of development, and to help families navigate the referral process.
Consultation services are free of cost to programs in Franklin, Hampshire, and northwestern Worcester counties, with funding from the EEC's Early Childhood Mental Health grant and a subcontract with the Behavioral Health Network. Programs outside these regions may receive consultations on a fee-for-service basis, or may use available QRIS funds.
For more information, contact:
Barbara Finlayson, Director of Early Childhood Programs413-586-4998 ext. 101 or 800-519-1882 ext. 101
Collaborative for Educational Services 97 Hawley St. Northampton, MA 01060 | (413) 586-4900 | email@example.com