Pennsylvania is one of twelve states to receive a technical assistance grant to help improve mental health in infancy and early childhood.
Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation typically pairs a mental health consultant with someone who works as a caregiver to young kids — to ultimately better serve the child.
“Generally what it is, is if there’s a kid who’s acting out, instead of making it something where they’re behaving badly or “they’re a bad kid,” and there’s escalating discipline, it’s recognizing the signs of a behavioral health issue,” said Pennsylvania Secretary of Human Services, Ted Dallas.
The grant will pair an expert assigned by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration with state government workers to assess how well the program is working in Pennsylvania. Then they will develop and implement a toolkit to help with training on a larger level.
The state says caregivers who go through this consultation do better when it comes to creating a supportive environment for kids who are struggling with a mental health issue.
“The more that we can identify these issues early on, the more that we can get kids started off on the right foot, the less likely that kids who are acting out will become kids who have discipline problems when they go to grade school or high school,” said Secretary Dallas.
And that could help divert kids from ending up in juvenile facilities — or eventually adult prisons.