Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation

Early childhood mental health consultation (ECMHC) is emerging as an effective strategy for supporting young children's social and emotional development and addressing challenging behaviors in early care and education settings. As a result, more and more states and communities are investing in ECMHC programs. GUCCHD faculty are nationally-recognized leaders in the field of early childhood mental health consultation, and have drawn on their expertise to help states and programs across the country build their capacity for delivering and evaluating ECMHC services for young children and their caregivers.

What is Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation?

Early childhood mental health consultation involves a professional consultant with mental health expertise working collaboratively with early care and education staff, programs and families to improve their ability to prevent, identify, and respond to mental health issues among children in their care. In contrast to direct therapeutic services, ECMHC offers an indirect approach to reducing problem behaviors in young children and, more broadly, promoting positive social and emotional development.

Our Major Activities

Center for Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (CECMHC)

In partnership with a consortium of universities, the national CEMHC strives to meet the needs of Early Head Start/Head Start (E/HS) programs for guidance on effective ways to promote young children's social and emotional development and address challenging behaviors. Under GUCCHD's leadership, the CEMHC has developed a number of practical, user-friendly materials to support E/HS mental health consultants, program administrators, staff and families in their efforts to foster healthy child development.

What Works? A Study of Effective Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Programs

Based on in-depth site visits to six early childhood mental health consultation (ECMHC) programs demonstrating positive outcomes, this study examines the core features of effective consultation programs. It also provides a snapshot of mental health consultation efforts across the country and offers recommendations for policymakers/funders, ECMHC providers, early care and education program administrators, and researchers/evaluators.

Maryland Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Evaluation

This study examines the implementation and outcomes of a statewide initiative to provide mental health consultation to early care and education providers in 12 sites. It builds upon an evaluation of two pilot sites conducted by GUCCHD faculty.

Resources

Online Resources and Publications

Journal Articles and Books

  • Brennan, E. M., Bradley, J. R., Allen, M. D., & Perry, D. F. (2008). The evidence base for mental health consultation in early childhood settings: Research synthesis addressing staff and program outcomes. Early Education and Development, 19, 982-1022.
  • Johnston, K., & Brinamen, C. (2006). Mental health consultation in child care: Transforming relationships among directors, staff and families. Washington, DC: ZERO TO THREE Press.
  • Hirschland, D. (2008). Collaborative intervention in early childhood: Consulting with parents and teachers of 3- to 7-year olds. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Perry, D. F., Allen, M. D., Brennan, E. M., & Bradley, J. R. (2009). The evidence base for mental health consultation in early childhood settings: Research synthesis addressing children's behavioral outcomes. Manuscript submitted for publication.
Contact Information

Frances Duran
Policy Associate
202-687-5204
bazazf@georgetown.edu

Core Funding

A.L. Mailman Family Foundation
Annie E. Casey Foundation
Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
Maryland State Department of Education
Office of Head Start, Administration for Children, Youth and Families