Key Tasks for Consultants

Key Tasks for Consultants

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Head Start/Early Head Start programs must enlist the services of a licensed mental health professional to provide regular onsite mental health consultation. The minimum requirements for this consultation, per the Head Start Performance Standards, include the following tasks:

  • Design and implement program practices responsive to the identified behavioral and mental health concerns of an individual child or group of children
  • Promote children’s mental wellness by providing group and individual staff and parent education on mental health issues
  • Assist in providing special help for children with atypical behavior or development
  • Utilize other community mental health resources, as needed [1304.24(a)(3)i-iv].

While these tasks are important and allude to some of the key roles that consultants can play, they do not paint a comprehensive picture of what consultants are trained and able to do. A mental health consultant plays three major roles that collectively seek to build caregiver capacity to promote young children’s healthy social/emotional development and prevent or address troubling or challenging behavior and to support early childhood mental health and the development of nurturing early childhood environments. Following are descriptions of each of these three essential – and complementary – roles as well as examples of how these might play out in HS/EHS settings.

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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.