Policy Resource

Arkansas ECMH Consultation Project

Nov 13, 2017

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.

The overall goals of Project PLAY are to:

  1. Promote positive social and emotional development of children through changes in the early learning environment.
  2. Decrease problematic social and emotional behaviors of young children in early child care settings by building the skills of child care providers and family members.

Project PLAY serves child care centers at all levels of quality. The program prioritizes, and conducts outreach to, 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.

Child care programs partnering with Project Play work with consultants during weekly visits over a 5-7 month period. Services included: classroom observation; coaching on strategies to promote pro-social behavior; training on behavior management, child development and mental health; promoting team building and communication between staff; and supporting individual children and families with screening, behavior management plans and referrals.

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. An evaluation of the ECMH consultation project published in the Infant Mental Health Journal found positive impacts on teacher sensitivity and child behavior.

Funds from the Child Care and Development Block Grant quality improvement dollars have supported the ECMH consultation project.

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