Federal, state, and local regulations and directives can have a powerful impact on infant and early childhood mental health consultation (IECMHC) program activities and efforts to support or sustain them. The policies put in place by officials at all levels of government establish rules, regulations, and procedures that guide the actions of citizens within their jurisdiction.

Policies can define a common vision for the future, help establish benchmarks for infant and early childhood mental health consultation, and help standardize the quality and fidelity of IECMHC services over time. Policies don’t always have to be developed by governments; agencies and programs can institute policies as well to solidify strategies in their formal agency or program guidance.

Policy strategies can be an important way to contribute to the sustainability of programs, services, partnerships, and other IECMHC efforts. Policies and system-level strategies yield strong support for wide-scale and sustainable IECMHC.

Identify strategies for public policies to be implemented to systematize ECMHC at the state and local levels and provide input to inform development of these policies.

Implement program and local agency policies that specifically include ECMHC.

In 2020, Colorado passed HB20-1053, Concerning Measures to Support the Early Childhood Workforce which put into state statute the ECMHC program that the state Department of Human Services had been supporting in prior years, thus formally recognizing and operationalizing the program.

In 2018 California passed Assembly Bill 2698, encouraging early childhood mental health consultation services in preschool and early learning programs through a higher adjustment rate using subsidized child care development funds.  Through this law, the state reimbursement rate per child for low-income children in preschools and early learning programs is increased by 5 percent for each child receiving subsidized tuition in a classroom that utilizes mental health consultation services.

Once a program is put into law, its flexibility is limited unless the law is written carefully to ensure that the foundational components that will not change over time are included, but that there is flexibility in those components that may need a more individualized approach.

Financing IECMHC Integrating IECMHC into Early Childhood Systems
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.