Strong Consultation in Head Start and Early Head Start

Strong Consultation in Head Start and Early Head Start

baby playing with toy

Strong early childhood mental health consultation services can benefit Head Start and Early Head Start programs, the children and families they serve, and program staff. Early childhood mental health consultation is an important strategy for helping programs reach the overarching goals of mental health services in Head Start and Early Head Start: to promote mental health and resilience, to prevent behavioral difficulties for those at risk, to recognize and identify mental health needs early, and to provide referrals and supports that return children, families, and staff to a state of wellness.

Strong consultation services help programs meet the Head Start and Early Head Start Performance Standards requirements as well as move programs toward excellence in mental health services design and delivery. Strong consultation services utilize the most current knowledge, evidence base, and effectiveness data to design and deliver services that will make a difference for children, families, staff and programs by:

  • Fostering the social-emotional development of all young children in the program;
  • Targeting specific factors that place young children at risk for developing behavior problems;
  • Building the capacity of staff and families to implement evidence-based interventions to reduce challenging behavior;
  • Promoting adoption of program-wide strategies that integrate evidence-based promotion, prevention and intervention approaches to young children’s social-emotional development; and
  • Incorporating research-based approaches to addressing staff and family well-being as essential ingredients in young children’s healthy social and emotional development.

Consultation services in Head Start and Early Head Start are strong when they include:

  • Leadership that values and supports mental health, has a clear vision of mental health consultation, and guides the planning and implementation of mental health services.
  • Finding a prepared (knowledge, skills, and qualities) and effective consultant with training and experience that matches the program’s philosophy, needs, interests, and requirements
  • Orienting the consultant to the Head Start and Early Head Start philosophy, program requirements, and the unique features and culture of the program and the community in which it operates.
  • Building working relationships that are trusting, respectful, and reflective among administrators, staff, caregivers, and families.
  • Knowledge and utilization of evidence-based and effective practices and strategies to promote social emotional development, prevent and intervene
  • Partnerships with community resources and a continuum of mental health services and supports
  • Resources to evaluate and sustain services, including financial or other support

Many of the products available through The Center for Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation support these aspects of a strong program.

Previous Next
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.