PROFILE: The Early Childhood Mental Health Specialists Program

Profile: The Early Childhood Mental Health (ECMH) unit is part of the Colorado Department of Human Services, Office of Early Childhood (OEC). OEC provides collaborative leadership to align resources for children, families, and early childhood professionals to best prepare Coloradans for future success, through access to coordinated and quality early childhood programs and family supports.

 Project Summary: The ECMH Specialists provide early childhood mental health consultation in child care centers, preschools and family child care homes to child care providers and parents/caregivers. The goal of the program is to enhance the capacity of adults to understand and respond effectively to the unfolding social emotional and overall developmental needs of very young children.

The Specialists are highly trained mental health professionals with specialization in infant and early childhood mental health principles and practices, as well as in a professional consultation approaches. They use various perspectives to inform their interactions with child care providers and parents, including trauma, attachment, developmental norms, and systems thinking. This enables them to use a consultative stance that is based on reflection and relationships and promotes health and well-being for young children and the adults who care for them.

Benefit to Colorado: Colorado is considered a national leader in ECMH promotion, prevention, early identification and intervention, and community systems-building. The ECMH unit focuses on mental health and well-being and ensures that all Colorado children and their families are valued, socially and emotionally healthy and their relationships are thriving.