About the Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Support Services
The Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Support Services (IECMHSS) improves the ability of staff, programs and families to prevent, identify, treat and reduce the impact of social, emotional and other mental health problems among children birth through 5 years old.
The Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Support Services program started as a project in 2002 as a three-year pilot program in Baltimore City and on the Eastern Shore. Based on the Project's success, the Maryland State Department of Education funded the expansion of the pilot program in 2006 to include 12 statewide child care licensing regions.
In Maryland, Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Support Services Program is both child/family and classroom/program focused. This hybrid model allows consultants to focus on specific child behaviors, while working with teachers to improve the overall quality of the classroom environment.
The Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Support Services Program goals are to:
- Refer children and families in need of more intensive mental health services to appropriate support and/or clinical programs;
- Help children remain in stable, quality child care arrangements that support their individual needs;
- Increase teacher confidence and competence dealing with challenging behaviors through training, coaching and mentoring, and
- Build close partnerships with local community resources including Judy Centers, Head Start Centers, health departments, Child Find, Maryland Infants & Toddlers Program, preschool special education, and private consultation providers.
The IECMHSS Program has been very well received across the state. As one director observed, “Without your help there would be children we would never be able to care for, not that we don’t want to, we don’t know how to.” The IECMH consultants build strong relationships with families, programs, and teachers to prevent, identify, treat, and reduce the impact of mental health problems among children.
Here are some helpful IECMH-related websites:
- The Georgetown Center for Early Childhood Mental Health
- Maryland Behavioral Health Integration in Pediatric Primary Care (BHIPP)
- Maryland Social Emotional Foundations for Early Learning
- The National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations
- Maryland Families Engage
The results of a gap analysis are presented in this report, including the current state of IECMH knowledge and practices within the ECE workforce, the current landscape of IECMH professional development system components, and ECE provider engagement with the IECMH professional development system. Implications of the findings of the gap analysis are used to provide a series of recommendations for the state as it continues to develop a professional development system to support IECMH.