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Head Start and Early Head Start: Ground Breakers and Strong Advocates

girl with toy truck

For years, Head Start and Early Head Start have been promoting and practicing new approaches to support the mental health of this country’s most challenged families. Driven by a commitment to serve young children and families, the requirements of the Head Start Program Performance Standards, and new developments in the science of child development, Head

Activity: Resources to Explore

List two or three resources that you intend to find and review in the next few weeks. Resource #1: Resource #2: Resource #3: Be sure to look in your own Head Start or Early Head Start’s resource library or collection of resource materials, connect to Head Start’s on-line Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center or go directly

Resources to Support Head Start and Early Head Start Mental Health Services

Little girl with flowers

Guides: Publications or materials that present or relate to specific topical information, providing instructional information, as well as guidance for understanding, designing, implementing, and evaluating actions related to mental health of young children, their families, and staff. Responding to the Mental Health Needs of Infants, Toddlers and Families – highlights strategies employed by Early Head

Activity: Click and Learn

preschoolers with teacher

If you are unfamiliar or want to refresh your familiarity with the Head Start and Early Head Start Program Performance Standards, use the following links to access the current Performance Standards document. Take your time to Click and Learn the more than 40 standards that relate to social/emotional development and mental health, some of which

The Standards for Mental Health Services in Head Start and Early Head Start

Small boy with glasses and finger paints

The Head Start Program Performance Standards mandate minimum compliance and provide a foundation on which Head Start and Early Head Start programs design and deliver supportive mental health services. Within these parameters, each program has the flexibility and the responsibility to decide how to implement the standards in ways that respond to their unique community and program needs.

Activity: Check-off, Add, and Indicate

Young boy thinking

Review the principles above and consider how these are represented in your Head Start or Early Head Start Program’s mental health and consultation services. Use the space below to Check- off or Add principles and values that currently guide your mental health services, and Indicate those you would like to put into place in the

Mental Health Principles for Head Start and Early Head Start

Young boy thinking

(Adapted from Feinberg & Fenichel, 1996; Stark, et al, 2002) Comprehensive: Mental health intertwines with every aspect of individual growth and development and should be integrated into every aspect of the Head Start or Early Head Start Program — affecting every participant from child, to parent, to staff, and administrator. Wellness: Mental health services are strengths-based

Principles that Guide Mental Health Services in Head Start/Early Head Start

Little girl and mom on bench

The Head Start/Early Head Start program philosophy rests on four basic principles: A child can benefit most from a comprehensive, interdisciplinary program to foster development and remedy any developmental concerns. Parents are the primary educators of their children and must be directly involved in the program. The well-being of children is inextricably linked to the

Activity: Where Have We Been and Where Should We Be Going?

Review the timeline highlighting some of the key “events” over the history of Head Start and Early Head Start that hallmark significant focus or influence on mental health services. Reflect on your knowledge about HS/EHS mental health services and mental health consultation, on how services have been influenced over time, and on how you would

A Brief History of Influences on Mental Health Services in Head Start

From its inception, Head Start (1965) has recognized that social and emotional health are essential aspects of a child’s development and a foundation for a child’s capacity to recognize and regulate emotions, build relationships, learn, and succeed in school ( Hunter, A. and O’Brien, J., 2009). Initially described as “social competence”, Head Start has always

This product was developed [in part] under grant number 1H79SM082070-01 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The views, policies and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of SAMHSA or HHS.