Policy Resource

Member Exclusive

Advancing Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Policy in States: Stories From the Field, Part Two

Julie Cohen and Deborah Roderick Stark


This article describes some of the extraordinary accomplishments of the second cohort of states to participate in the Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Financing Policy Project (IECMH-FPP). The purpose of the IECMH-FPP is to support states’ advancement of IECMH assessment, diagnosis, and treatment policies that will contribute to the healthy development of young children. The policy stories are meant to inspire and offer lessons learned for other states interested in advancing IECMH policy. And they demonstrate that state leaders working across early childhood systems can drive meaningful change.

In 2016, ZERO TO THREE (with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Irving Harris Foundation, the Alliance for Early Success, and the University of Minnesota) launched the Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Financing Policy Project (IECMH-FPP) with the goal of supporting states’ advancement of IECMH assessment, diagnosis, and treatment policies. The first cohort of states participating in the IECMH-FPP included Alaska, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Virginia. The second cohort was launched in May 2018. States participating included Alabama, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington. Some states entered the collaborative with a strong foundation and energy to build on, while others were in the early stages of building public awareness and political will related to the critical importance of IECMH.

In isolation, a new policy idea in one state may represent a small gain. However, when shared among a national network of professionals, workshopped with health policy and clinical experts, and considered in various policy contexts, these ideas can be brought to larger scale and adapted to influence mental health access for thousands of infants and toddlers. This vision is playing out across 20 states in real time, with innovations spreading. The policy stories included in this article illustrate just a few of the remarkable accomplishments of the Cohort 2 states that participated in the IECMH-FPP.

Member Exclusive

This content is available only to ZERO TO THREE members. In addition to outstanding resources like this, ZERO TO THREE membership provides a wide range of valuable benefits and exclusive opportunities to connect with your peers.

Learn More about membership Already a member? Sign In