California MAP* to Inclusion and Belonging… *Making Access Possible Summer 2023 Newsletter
Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health (IECHM)
California MAP to Inclusion & Belonging… Making Access Possible is devoting the 2023 Summer issue of the newsletter to infant and early childhood mental health. As children, families, early care and education providers and early interventionists are all recovering from the fallout of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the understanding of and ability to address the impact on mental health is more important than ever before. Our goal is to equip families and early learning and care providers with resources, tools and activities to help increase understanding of infant and early childhood mental health and the critical need to support the social and emotional development of very young children and the mental health of families and caregivers.
Most of the resources in this newsletter can be found on MAP’s newly updated Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health page , including the featured California resource, the Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Network (IECMHC). You’ll also find resources from the Healthy Mind, Healthy Body web page on self-care and adult mental health. We hope you take time to explore more of the resources on those web pages.
This edition of the newsletter is dedicated to, Chris Muecke, a champion for infant and early childhood mental health who made a lasting impact on the promotion of mental health in San Diego County.
In this issue:
- Tribute to Chris Muecke, Champion in Promoting Infant Mental Health
- MAP’s Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Resources
- California Projects Supporting Social and Emotional Development and Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health
- What is Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health?
- National Resource: Center for Excellence on Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (IECMHC)
- Why Does it Matter?
- Infant Mental Health Infographics From the United Kingdom
- Understanding Stress and Resilience in Young Children: Video Series from Head Start
- New Resources from National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations (NCPMI) to for Families and Caregivers to Support Infants and Toddlers
- Sesame Street Resources Supporting the Relationship Between Caregivers and Children
- Healthy Mind, Health Body: Self Care
- For Educators: Taking Care of Yourself, Tips for Educators in Building Resilience
- Be Well
- Resources for Help in Understanding and De-Stigmatizing Mental Health, Identifying Needs and Accessing Resources
1. Tribute to Chris Muecke, Champion in Promoting Infant Mental Health
The June 2023 MAP Newsletter on Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health is dedicated to the memory of Chris Muecke who passed away on May 30, 2023. She was an early childhood interventionist, mentor, educator and passionate advocate for infant and early childhood mental health. She left a legacy of relationships and accomplishments to help build the capacity for future generations of early childhood professionals to competently support the mental health of very young children and their families.
Chris positively impacted the lives of countless infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families during the 26 years that she worked as an early interventionist and infant/parent educator for the San Diego Unified School District. She served as a mentor and teacher to students and early childhood educators as a faculty member at San Diego State University. Outside of her paid employment she promoted infant and early childhood mental health through her leadership in the San Diego Chapter of the Infant Development Association. She also helped to form an infant mental health community interest group called the Neuro Nerds and helped to establish San Diego’s We Can’t Wait Conference on Early Childhood Mental Health. She also supported the development of the Early Childhood Social Emotional and Behavior Regulation Intervention Specialist (ECSEBRIS) early childhood mental health training program at San Diego State University. Colleagues who worked with Chris on each of these projects have submitted tributes to Chris.
2. MAP’s Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Resources
The MAP IECMH Resource page holds links to highly respected state, national and international websites that provide research, resources, videos, tools and training and technical assistance focused on infant and early childhood mental health. This newsletter highlights some of resources found on this newly updated web page.
Visit MAP's IECMH Resources page to learn about other key organizations and resources that promote infant and early childhood mental health such as The California Center for Infant-Family and Early Childhood Mental Health, the California Association of Infant Mental Health, the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA) and Head Start Mental Health.
3. California Projects Supporting Social and Emotional Development and Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health
The California Department of Social Services, Child Development Division, provides leadership and funding for two major statewide projects in California that support social and emotional development and infant and early childhood mental health: The California Teaching Pyramid and the California Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (IECMHC) Network. Both promote social and emotional development and emphasize the importance of relationships. The CA Teaching Pyramid is focused on comprehensive training supported by coaching and leadership team development. The IECMHC Network focuses on relationship-based consultation services, training, resources and supports. Read an introduction to the CA Teaching Pyramid below and then read the Featured California Resource article to find out more about the IECMHC Network.
The Teaching Pyramid approach provides a systematic framework that promotes social and emotional development, provides support for children’s appropriate behavior, prevents challenging behavior, and addresses problematic behavior. WestEd offers comprehensive professional development packages for infant/toddler, preschool, and early elementary educators. WestEd’s California Teaching Pyramid is based on evidence-based practice originally developed by the Center on the Social Emotional Foundations in Early Learning (CSEFEL). The project has been authorized by California Department of Education (CDE), aligned with California’s Early Learning and Development System, and is now supported by the California Department of Social Services (CDSS). Training modules are available for work with infants and toddlers, preschool age children and early elementary. Visit the website for more information about the Teaching Pyramid and access to free resources for families and classrooms.
See the online courses on California Early Childhood Online (CECO) or contact email@example.com for information about how to access comprehensive training.
Featured California Resource: Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Network (IECMHC Network)
Offers no cost infant and early childhood mental health consultation services, supports and resources for all early learning and care providers in California
The California Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (IECMHC) Network is a professional development project funded by the California Department of Social Services (CDSS), Child Care and Development Division, and is coordinated by WestEd. The IECMHC Network delivers consultation services, resources, and training activities for early learning and care center-based program staff, family child care providers, and family, friend, and neighbor caregivers. IECMHC Network services are offered at no cost for early learning and care center-based programs and home-based care providers in California.
The IECMHC Network describes infant and early childhood mental health consultation as “a preventative, strength-based, culturally responsive approach that provides early learning and care settings—such as center-based program staff, family child care providers, and family, friend and neighbor caregivers, access to infant and early childhood mental health consultants. Infant and early childhood mental health consultation (IECMHC) is not therapy, nor does it include assessment or diagnosis of specific children. Consultation is used to assist caregivers, teachers, staff, and families in creating environments in which children’s social and emotional development can thrive. Infant and early childhood mental health consultants work with caregivers and staff to ensure that all young children have the skills to express and manage their emotions, make friends, and gain valuable problem-solving skills.”
The IECMHC Network model is a relationship-based approach “that emphasizes strengthening relationships among early learning and care providers, families, children, and representatives of the community with systems and resources. When early learning and care providers are supported with strategies, resources, reflective opportunities, and problem-solving support, they are better equipped to provide healthy learning environments for all children and families in their care.”
Helpline! You can access “just in time” support by calling 1-877-524-2422 M–F 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Mental health specialists and/or consultants offer one-on-one support for timely, non-emergency guidance regarding specific questions or concerns related to infant, toddler, and young children’s social, emotional, and behavioral health.
Frequently Asked Questions. Find out more about the approach and services offered by IECMHC Network on the Frequently Asked Questions page of their website.
4. What is Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health (IECMH)?
“IECMH is the developing capacity of the infant/young child to form close and secure relationships; experience, manage, and express a full range of emotions; and explore the environment and learn—all in the context of family, community, and culture.” However, it’s more than dimension of development for very young children, it’s also a multi-disciplinary field of study and practice “focusing on enhancing the emotional and social competence of infants, toddlers, and preschool-aged children through healthy relationships. Anyone who touches the lives of babies, young children and their families can contribute to promoting infant and early childhood mental health (IECMH).”
Find out more about infant and early childhood mental health in the Zero to Three article: Yes, Mental Health Includes Babies , published on April 23, 2023.
5. National Resource: Center for Excellence on Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (IECMHC), Georgetown University
This national organization at Georgetown University supports IECMHC to ADVANCE and IMPACT the mental health of young children, their families and staff in early childhood settings across the country. Watch the videos that describe what IECMHC is, why it is effective and why it matters. Here you can access virtual trainings , resources, request technical assistance or join the virtual IECMHC Community. Services and resources are primarily directed toward mental health consultants, program managers and policy makers.
6. Why does it matter?
“Early childhood experiences can strengthen or disrupt a young child’s social, emotional, and cognitive development, with consequences that can last a lifetime.” Read the Dear Colleague Letter from the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Education (ED) and watch the three short videos they developed that explain the importance of support for not only the mental health and well being of very young children but also for their families and caregivers. The videos and Letter are found in the link below.
Infographics created by the Parent-Infant Foundation of the United Kingdom explain the definition of infant mental health, why it matters and why relationships between parents and their babies are so important in the first two years of life.
What is Infant Mental Health? Why Does it Matter?
This infographic, created for Infant Mental Health Awareness Week 2020, describes what infant mental health is and why it matters. It explains the fundamental role of early relationships and how infant mental health lays the foundations for a range of important outcomes.
The Core Story
This infographic sets out the core story of why relationships between parents and their babies in the first 1001 days are so crucially important. It was co-created by a wide range of professionals, coordinated by the Parent-Infant Foundation. Importantly, the infographic makes it clear that BOTH tackling adversity AND supporting early relationships are important in giving children the best start in life.
You may have heard of ACES, Adverse Childhood Experiences, from the famous TED talk by Nadine Burke Harris, former Surgeon General of California. This video series summarizes what we know about ACES and applies it to support for families in Head Start programs. These powerful videos hold the stories of people who have experienced ACES and professionals who have identified and supported children and families exposed to ACES. The video series is a must see for those who work with vulnerable populations.
Watch the videos in this series to learn how high levels of stress can impact a child's lifelong health and well-being. Find out how Head Start programs and health care professionals can support children and families to help prevent early childhood stress.
9. New Resources from National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations (NCPMI) to for Families and Caregivers to Support Infants and Toddlers
The National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations (NCPMI) is funded by the Office of Special Education Programs to improve and support the capacity of state systems and local programs to implement an early childhood multi-tiered system of support to improve the social, emotional, and behavioral outcomes of young children with, and at risk for, developmental disabilities or delays.
NCPMI has developed training modules, materials and tools for infants and toddlers and preschoolers to support the implementation of the Teaching Pyramid goals and practices. Visit the website to learn more and gain access to free resources .
Below are some recently released resources that support infants and toddlers.
Caregivers can use the strategies in the infographic to provide infants with predictability in their day, and safety in relationships-all to support healthy attachment. Infants rely on the adults in their lives to read their cues, and help them to regulate as they adapt to their world. Responsive and positive interactions between infants and their caregivers help to build a strong attachment relationship. Positive attachment relationships support healthy brain development, and set babies up for success to learn about their emotions and build relationships as they grow into toddlers and preschoolers.
Toddlers experience big emotions as they learn to make meaning of their world and communicate their needs. Toddlers look to their primary caregivers to let them what they are experiencing is okay. Caregivers can use the strategies included in this infographic to provide toddlers with predictability in their day, safety in relationships, meaning to their experiences and emotions, and begin to build their problem-solving skills.
10. Sesame Street Resources Supporting the Relationship Between Caregivers and Children
Emotional Well-Being: Children who are healthy in mind, body, and heart can thrive in every way. Mental health IS health! Sesame Street Workshop has a wealth of resources to support social and emotional development for professionals and families. The resources highlighted below focus on the caregiver child relationship, the foundation of emotional well-being.
Everyone has big feelings sometimes... and grown-ups can share helpful ways for children to move through them. In this video, watch Elmo’s daddy show that feelings matter (Video) . Then you can print out the three step plan provided to help children manage challenging emotions.
This soothing and engaging song celebrates the important relationships between children and their trusted grown-ups. You’ll find links to other resources supporting emotional well-being here as well.
When you listen to your child, share joyful moments, and offer comfort, support, and love, you’re helping them build a foundation of emotional well-being. The most important thing you can do for your child is to be a steady, loving presence in their lives! Read this interactive book online with your child.
11. Healthy Mind, Health Body: Self Care
MAP's Healthy Mind, Healthy Body page holds resources for early learning and care providers to support them in taking care of themselves. See the latest posts in the articles below and check out other resources that may be helpful on Self-Care, including posts on mindfulness, creating a plan for self-care, ideas for promoting well-being and happiness podcasts!
Sesame Street | May 2023
“As an educator and caring grown-up in children’s lives, your work has deep value and meaning. It also, of course, has its challenges! The grace, care, and kindness that you bring to these challenges all make an enormous impact on your life and the lives of the children you serve… We work hard every day to meet children’s needs, but we’re vulnerable too. As members of a helping profession, we sometimes forget we need help as well.” Read the article by April Solomon-Tate of First Up to learn about ideas you can use in the moment to support your own emotional health and well-being.
Life can often present us with overwhelming obstacles, making it difficult to navigate through challenging times. With this in mind, this site was thoughtfully designed to provide education professionals with a range of strategies to effectively manage their emotions.
This virtual Be Well space was created by the California Center for School Climate, a California Department of Education initiative led by WestEd. It was created to provide youth-serving adults with research-based strategies, supports, and ideas for understanding and working with the brain’s natural tendencies to practice self-regulation and manage stress.
The website has four sections: Calm Yourself; Activate Yourself; Increase Well Being; and Why this works. The first three sections provide information, videos and activities that support resilience. The last section explains Bruce Perry’s 3 R’s approach to the learning brain. Explore the website to gain tools for your own well being!
14. Resources for Help in Understanding and De-Stigmatizing Mental Health, Identifying Needs and Accessing Resources
“Mental health is all around us, but it’s often misunderstood. Here is some quick info to help demystify what we mean by “mental health” and how to talk about it.” The Roadmap to Mental Health explains what mental health is and the difference between mental health, mental wellness and mental fitness and provides resources to address the unique needs of specific groups of people. This downloadable pdf provides an infographic that you can share with others to promote mental health and reduce stigma.
This helpful guide not only offers a self-assessment, but also provides strategies for next steps depending on your needs. It includes self-care activities and referrals to additional resources.
In May 2023 HHS launched a new website, FindSupport.gov, to help individuals navigate toward better behavioral health, such as how to ask for help, how to help others, and how to search for a health care professional or support program that meets your needs regardless of insurance status. It also includes crisis line numbers to help you access help immediately.
Direct questions or comments about this newsletter to firstname.lastname@example.org
In this issue:
- Tribute to Chris Muecke
- MAP's IECMH Resources
- California Projects Supporting Social and Emotional Development & IECMH
- What is IECMH?
- Center for Excellence on IECMH Consultation
- Why does it matter?
- Infant Mental Health Infographics
- Stress & Resilience in Young Children
- New Resources for Families & Caregivers
- Sesame Street Resources
- Self Care
- Taking Care of Yourself
- Be Well
- De-Stigmatizing Mental Health