This article summarizes key themes from South Carolina’s role in a convening of states and jurisdictions centered around improving state policies supporting Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health assessment, diagnosis, and treatment.
Children’s earliest experiences impact their brain formation and in turn, their social and emotional, physical, cognitive, communication, and sensory and motor skills development. Recognizing the tremendous opportunities and risks associated with this critical time, states are increasingly investing in promoting infant and early childhood mental health (IECMH), defined as the capacity of a child from birth to age five to experience, express and regulate emotions; form close, secure interpersonal relationships; and explore his/her environment and learn, all within the context of family and cultural expectations. ZERO TO THREE released two papers in 2018 and 2019 highlighting strategies states are employing to support children’s IECMH. Highlights from South Carolina include:
- In a section focused on supporting cross-agency work, South Carolina is highlighted for creating an interdisciplinary, cross-agency IECMH committee in 2016 with representatives from all major child-serving agencies, institutions of higher education, health systems, and community partners. Together, they focus on IECMH workforce competencies. In January 2018, the committee partnered with the South Carolina Infant Mental Health Association to launch an IECMH endorsement system. The committee has created momentum for broader systems-change to support IECMH.
Learn more about how South Carolina and other states are promoting IECMH in Advancing Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health: The Integration of DC:0–5™ Into State Policy and Systems and Exploring State Strategies for Financing Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Assessment, Diagnosis, and Treatment.
South Carolina is one of twenty states and jurisdictions participating in ZERO TO THREE’s IECMH Financing Policy Project that supports states in improving IECMH policy and practice, with a focus on financing.