Policy Resource

Arkansas ECMH consultation project

Dec 9, 2013

Learn how Arkansas is strengthening early childhood mental health (ECMH) supports in early care and education programs through its ECMH consultation project, called Project PLAY (Positive Learning for Arkansas Youngest).

Project PLAY consultants work out of community health centers in five regions of the state, partnering with licensed child care programs. The goals of Project PLAY are two-fold: 1) Promote positive social and emotional development of children through changes in the early learning environment; and 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 and prioritizes and conducts outreach to centers that serve foster children.

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. For more information about the Arkansas ECMH consultation project, visit the University of Arkansas website at www.projectplay.uams.edu

Updated December 2013

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