Early Childhood Mental Health Program
Program History and Description
Kentucky's Early Childhood Mental Health Program (ECMH) was created in state fiscal year 2003 as a component of the early childhood development initiative, KIDS NOW (see Related Links).
The Department for Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities (DBHDID) and the Department for Public Health (DPH) co-administer the program, with DPH staff having lead responsibility for program oversight and financing, and DBHDID staff serving as clinical liaison to the program.
A Memorandum of Agreement concerning this program exists between the two departments to allow for the transfer of program support funds to DBHDID. These funds are then contracted to the 14 Boards for Mental Health or Individuals With an Intellectual Disability (also known as Community Mental Health Centers) for regional program administration.
In addition, DPH maintains small contracts with the University of Kentucky for training and consultation, and with Eastern Kentucky University for staffing and resources related to ECMH.
The primary goals of ECMH are:
- To provide program and child-level consultation to early care and education (child care) programs regarding social, emotional and behavioral issues.
- To provide training for child-serving agencies and individuals on working with young children who have social, emotional and behavioral needs, and their families.
- To provide evaluation, assessment, and therapeutic services for children from birth through the age of 5 ("eligible children") and their families.
ECMH funds the equivalent of fourteen ECMH Specialists, resulting in one or two Specialists per Community Mental Health Center region. The Specialists' time is devoted solely to their regional ECMH programs, and to building regional capacity to better meet the social, emotional and behavioral needs of eligible children and their families.
The job duties of the ECMH Specialists include the following:
- Provide free consultation and education services to early care and education staff who serve eligible children.
- Provide assessments and therapeutic treatment (individual, family and collateral services) to eligible children who have mental health needs and their families, at the location most suitable for the child and the family.
- Work closely with local Healthy Start in Child Care consultants and the Health Access and Nurturing Development Services (HANDS) home visitors, and other agencies or programs that serve eligible children and their families, to provide mental health consultation, assessment and therapeutic treatment services on behalf of eligible children who are identified by those programs as needing mental health services.
- Assist families with eligible children in identifying and accessing needed community resources.
- Provide information and serve as a resource to private physicians and other caregivers through raising awareness of available services and resources for eligible children and their families.
- Offer early childhood mental health training to fellow Regional Community Mental Health Center staff, as well as other community partners who serve young children.
- Foster community planning for early childhood mental health through local groups and the Community Early Childhood Councils in the area.
- Attend training related to early childhood development and early childhood mental health needs.
- Prepare and submit periodic service reports and evaluation data.
- Attend quarterly state-level meetings of all ECMH Specialists.
You can view a list of your region's ECMH Specialists by clicking on the link in the Related Links box.
To obtain more information about ECMH in your region, contact your region's ECMH Specialist for intake and referral information, using the link in Related Links.
Return to top