Making Community Referrals

Making Community Referrals

child reading book

Knowledge of community resources and facilitating referrals for other services in the community are an important part of the ECMH consultation process. Making a referral is based on an identified concern that cannot be addressed within the consultation process. It also represents an extension of trust between the consultant and staff or family.

To be meaningful resources for diverse young children and families, referral agencies should be culturally and linguistically competent to serve diverse communities. It is not helpful to refer a family to an agency for services where no one speaks that language and no interpreter or translation services are available. Some referrals, such as to Child Protective Services or other government-funded agencies may stir anxiety or resistance due to risks related to culture-based perceptions, past experiences of discrimination or racism, and immigration status. Meaningful community partners for supporting diverse young children and families may also include ethnic or culture specific resources such as: outreach programs, relocation programs, natural healers, faith-based and religious organizations, and cultural community leaders.

Mental health consultants may choose to become an advocate or active participant in efforts to build the capacity of communities to better serve diverse young children and families. Head Start and Early Head Start programs may already be active partners in these types of community efforts. They should be familiar with all community partners and resources as well as have a list or directory available to support collaboration and assist in connecting families to community resources. (See Office of Head Start, Head Start Program Performance Standards 45 CFR 1304.41, Community Partnerships. In working with community resources, consultants should collaborate with other Early Head Start and Head Start staff (Teacher, Home Visitor, Family Advocate, Disabilities Coordinator, etc.) to make the most of already established working relationships with community partners.

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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.