Arkansas’ Project PLAY (Positive Learning for Arkansas’ Youngest) consultants work out of community health centers in nine regions of the state to provide early childhood mental health consultation to licensed child care programs. Consultation is offered at the classroom-, child-. and program levels.
Project PLAY works to enhance the capacity of childcare centers and teachers to prevent and manage challenging behaviors in children and build social and emotional skills children need for success in school and life. The program serves child care centers at all levels of quality and prioritizes, centers that serve children in foster care. It also provides education to child welfare caseworkers, foster parents, CASA volunteers and judges about the importance of high-quality, consistent child care for young children involved in the child welfare system.
Project PLAY maintains a partnership with the Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education’s statewide, centralized suspension and expulsion prevention system called BehaviorHelp.
When Project PLAY accepts a referral from the BehaviorHelp system, child focused consultation services are offered once a week for 3 months, and supports could include:
- Observation of classroom, teacher, environment, and child referred.
- Developmental, social and emotional screening.
- Partnering in development of individualized plans to support caregivers in managing challenging behaviors and strengthening social and emotional supports in the classroom.
- Classroom visits to assist teachers in implementing new strategies and techniques and support the well-being of the teacher.
- Partnership with parents to facilitate consistency between home and school.
- Training and information sharing on topics such as childhood trauma, managing disruptive behaviors, and emotional literacy.
Referrals to community resources, if needed, for further assessment and treatment.ECMH consultants are required to be licensed mental health professionals. New consultants participate in an intensive 40-hour training and receive ongoing support once they are in the field through reflective supervision and regular team meetings.
Outcomes for the project can be found in their annual reports here.
Revised January 2020