For Immediate Release - June 27, 2013

$1.25M Early Childhood Mental Health Grants Statewide

Grants will support over 1,000 programs in 351 communities across the state

BOSTON – The Patrick Administration today announced $1.25 million in grant awards to strengthen coordination and partnerships between early learning and elementary education programs and services in communities across the Commonwealth. 

The “Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Services Program” provides social and emotional development supports for early education programs serving young children.  It is a joint effort of the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) and the Department of Mental Health (DMH), and part of a broader comprehensive statewide system of mental health services for families in need across Massachusetts. 

EEC and DMH, and their key partners, are working together to provide early education and care professionals and families with supports, strategies, and services that address the developmental behavioral challenges that some children and their families face, and reduce the incidence of suspension and expulsion in early education and care settings.  

The $1.25M investment through these grant awards is concordant with the Patrick Administration’s focus on advancing the positive developmental and academic outcomes of children through provider quality improvement.  Increasing educators’ core competencies, skills and abilities to assess children’s social and emotional progress and to respond to children in behavioral distress, are proactive measures to address the influence of risks that could negatively impact children’s long-term development and success. 

The agencies funded through this grant will coordinate classrooms observations of children; assessments of children’s physical environments; training, coaching, and mentoring to help educators identify behavior risks and prevent or reduce social-emotional issues; and referrals to community-based services that meet the mental health, social welfare, and other basic needs of children and their family members.

“Providing the highest quality education and resources for our youngest citizens is how we will strengthen this Commonwealth in the long term,” said Governor Patrick. “We know from academic research, from years of public policy and from our own experience as parents that investing in our children at a young age pays huge dividends for them and for our communities as a whole.”

“We must do more to give young students every opportunity to achieve at the highest level and that includes emotional and social supports,” said Secretary of Education Matt Malone. “By providing teachers with strategies to connect parents with mental health resources for their children, we know the students will do better and that our communities as a whole will be better off.”

“Increasing the capacity of Massachusetts’ early education providers to support children’s healthy social and emotional development, particularly those with challenging behavioral needs, is critical to the well-being of all children,” said EEC Acting Commissioner Tom Weber.  “These networks are key to making our system of early education and care across the state even more effective in building the future generations of the Commonwealth.”

“DMH supports effective early childhood mental health consultation and we enthusiastically lend our expertise to identify and provide appropriate interventions as early as possible in the lives of young people,” said DMH Commissioner Marcia Fowler. “In partnership with the network of early childhood mental health consultants, EEC, and the resources of community based mental health systems, we know that the earlier that we can intervene in the lives of young children and their families, the more likely that we can prevent and reduce behavior and emotional challenges that interfere with their healthy development down the road.”

“These grants provide supports to children and families in early education and care programs, addressing cultural, linguistic, and socio-emotional needs.  I applaud the Administration’s commitment to ensuring the healthy development of the Commonwealth’s youngest children,” said Representative Alice Peisch, House Chair, Joint Committee on Education.

Six agencies have been selected to provide services in 351 communities across the state that will reach an estimated 1,000 licensed early education and care programs for young children.  The grantees and the regions of the state they will serve are: Behavioral Health Network (West), Community Healthlink, Inc (Central), Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (Northeast); Enable (Metrowest), Justice Resource Institute, Inc. (Southeast, Cape Cod, and Islands), Home for Little Wanderers (Greater Boston). 

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About the Department of Early Education and Care

The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) is the lead agency for the regulation of early education and care and out-of-school time programs in Massachusetts and for the administration of child care financial assistance to low-income and other at-risk families.  EEC licenses child care programs, residential programs, and adoption/foster care placement agencies, including over 10,000 family child care and group/school age child care programs across the Commonwealth.  EEC provides financial assistance for over 51,000 children to attend high-quality programs that support their growth, development and learning.  In addition, EEC provides support for information and referral services, inclusive programming for children with special needs, parenting and family support, and professional development opportunities for educators in the early education and out of school time fields.  EEC’s mission is to provide a system of early education and care and out-of-school time in Massachusetts that provides all children with the necessary foundation for healthy and positive educational development and lifelong success.