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Vol 41 No 3-Caring for Mental Health in Early Childhood Education Settings

This Issue and Why It Matters Stefanie Powers, Editor

This issue of the ZERO TO THREE Journal represents a unique collaboration between ZERO TO THREE and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) to collectively focus our respective journals on the emotional health of infants and toddlers. The catalyst for this issue was threefold: (1) the shared interest in supporting the early childhood education workforce to have the resources and tools necessary for mee19ting the needs of the youngest children in their care, (2) the understanding that social–emotional development is critical to learning and a fundamental aspect of infant and early childhood mental health (IECMH); and (3) the recognition of the power of collaboration to elevate the vital role of early childhood educators in supporting IECMH. Perhaps more than ever, mental health has been on the minds of many over the past year, and this issue includes what we know from research about the emotional health of infants and toddlers and the adults who care for and educate them.

The articles in the ZERO TO THREE Journal explore a variety of issues related to IECMH in early education settings, including: how infants and toddlers’ mental health is paramount to their ability to form healthy relationships, regulate their emotions, and learn; the role of IECMH consultation, the impact of COVID, and equity and power dynamics; and trauma-informed care, and the importance of teacher’s mental health, particularly in the context of multiple, long-term stressors affecting every layer of the early childhood education system and society as a whole. We also recognize the valuable role of advocacy and policy and provide suggestions for how early childhood professionals can bring their expertise to influence effective policy change for babies and families.

The articles in NAEYC’s journal, Young Children, focus on understanding and nurturing social and emotional development in infants and toddlers. The cluster articles describe how early childhood educators can: listen to, observe, and guide infants and toddlers through thoughtfully prepared play spaces, daily routines, and everyday interactions; affirm and support toddlers’ emotions and emotion regulation through specific language strategies; employ relationship-based guidance strategies to identify and respond to behaviors; and actively participate in early intervention processes through effective communication and collaboration within a team. The issue also features a special Rocking and Rolling column devoted to understanding what IECMH is and how early childhood educators play a role in it.

We hope that the readers of the ZERO TO THREE Journal and Young Children will turn to both publications to learn new perspectives and find valuable resources to support their work with infants, toddlers, and their families.

Stefanie Powers, Editor-in-Chief ZERO TO THREE Journal

Kathy Reschke, Editorial Assistant ZERO TO THREE Journal

Annie Moses, Editor-in-Chief, Young Children, National Association for the Education of Young Children

Suggested Citation

Powers, S., Reschke, K., & Moses, A. (2021). This issue and why it matters. ZERO TO THREE Journal, 41(3), 2.


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