Communications and Messaging

Communications and Messaging



Sustaining IECMHC—both financially and politically—requires an understanding of its purpose and value. Committing to sustainability involves getting the community on board, which can be achieved through effective communication materials.

Resources needed to produce high-quality communication materials go beyond funds for printing and dissemination; time and expertise to plan and prepare the materials are also needed.

Messaging and communications strategies have several purposes, including increasing awareness of the role of IECMHC, encouraging caregivers to participate in a range of services, sharing information with the community about the IECMHC model, getting community buy in, expanding the early childhood system’s stakeholder base, increasing number of champions, and informing policymakers and partners about system needs.

Reach potential community partners where they are, such as in parent groups, in mental health clinics, and at county human services offices; having a clear purpose and understanding of these partners’ priorities and services to fully engage them.

Develop communication materials about IECMHC that are responsive to the priorities and needs of community partners, but also match the values of the IECMHC initiative.

The Early Childhood Partnership of Adams County in Colorado worked with key stakeholders to develop materials to promote infant and early childhood social-emotional development based on messages in Colorado’s Shared Message Bank (see resources).

The intent of these materials is to raise awareness about the importance of social-emotional development, provide concrete examples of how caregivers can support infants’ and young children’s social-emotional development, and connect caregivers to key community resources through a call to action.

Early childhood service providers such as early education teachers, health care workers, and home visitors are trained on delivering the materials as trusted messengers to start conversations and to avoid using the materials as stand-alone messages.

Effective communication can be a cornerstone of efforts to engage stakeholders and lead meaningful change in communities. It is critical to develop accurate, research-based, and understandable communication materials.

Despite the critical role that such materials play in engaging partners, communication-materials development remains an underdeveloped area, due to limited resources. Prioritizing development of communication materials that promote direct services to infants, young children, and families or professional development for IECMH consultants can help ensure that limited resources are used most effectively.


Integrating IECMHC into Early Childhood Systems Champions and Partnerships
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.