Early Childhood Mental Health Support

Teachers sometimes need support in responding to children in ways that support their social and emotional development. The Collaboration for Early Childhood partners with an Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant (ECMHC) to help our community’s early childhood educators do this important work. When educators encounter behaviors that challenge their skills, the Mental Health Consultant can help guide and coach educators toward strategies to meet those challenges.

From January through May, 2023, Tajuana Rice, Infant Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant, will be leading Reflective Practice Groups for early learning practitioners. These sessions are meant to support and strengthen a provider’s experience with and understanding of reflective practice. They offer a source of professional support, reference, and anchoring for participants. If you are interested in participating in Reflective Practice Groups, please reach out to us at EarlyLearning@collab4kids.org.

Early childhood mental health impacts social-emotional learning, classroom learning, equity and opportunity for children. “Damien’s” story illustrates the connections between these concepts. Damien is a four-year-old participating in a local preschool program. On a recent morning, Damien was reprimanded by three different early child care providers and put into time-out twice. There is certainly a history of behaviors that challenge his teacher’s skills and abilities to best support him. However, through these negative messages, Damien is quickly learning that he is a problem and that adults are not his allies. He will likely enter elementary school with these core beliefs and will continue to act out. But what if his care providers received coaching to help them understand social-emotional development and identify underlying factors that may be contributing to his behavior? What if they were equipped with tools to redirect him and encourage positive behavior?

The Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant seeks to accomplish those goals, so that all children have the opportunity to receive the supports they need, believe in their worth, and thrive.

The Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant partners with kids at early childhood center sites to perform assessments and ongoing consultation. And, to expand her impact, she also teaches educators, parents and directors about social-emotional development and coaches them through her assessment and consultation process. When more of us reframe our perspective to explore how we as adults can serve all children, rather than focusing on the behavior of a child, we all improve.

Support a strong start and a bright future.

We champion high-quality early childhood care and learning experiences and support for families so all children develop their full potential.