A new law creates a statewide, voluntary, early childhood consultation program that will support parents and teachers of young children with consultants who have advanced training in early childhood mental health and child development.
On June 27th, Maine Governor Janet Mills signed into law An Act to Promote Social and Emotional Learning and Development for Young Children. The new law creates a statewide, voluntary, early childhood consultation program that will support parents and teachers of young children with consultants who have advanced training in early childhood mental health and child development.
The program, which will begin implementation in September 2020, is designed to prevent young children from being suspended or expelled from early learning programs and schools. The program will offer services for children who are experiencing challenging behaviors that put them at risk of learning difficulties and removal from early learning and education settings. Consultants will provide guidance and training to improve the abilities and skills of early care and education teachers and providers working in public elementary schools, child care centers, family child care settings, and Head Start programs serving children up to 8 years of age. They will also support families and foster parents with infants or young children who are experiencing challenging behaviors.
ZERO TO THREE, the National Center for Children in Poverty, and the Ounce of Prevention supported the work of a study commission in 2016 charged with gathering and analyzing data about the social-emotional development of children in Maine. The commission recommended the creation of an early childhood mental health consultation program. Senator Cathy Breen, the Maine Children’s Growth Council, the Maine Children’s Alliance, and other advocates have worked diligently since 2016 to make this legislation a reality.