Did you know that preschoolers are expelled from school at three times the rate of older children?
Getting kicked out of preschool can hinder children’s social-emotional development, disrupt continuity of care for children and parents, and delay children getting the services they need.
One way to reduce expulsions, as profiled in a recent New York Times article, is to connect child care providers to mental health consultation services and expertise in child development. Fortunately for children and child care providers in Contra Costa County, these services exist – they’re free and they’re working.
- Only 1 in 4 children in California who need mental health care receive treatment, despite the fact their families have health insurance to pay for it.
- Preschoolers who suffer from depression will likely continue to experience it throughout childhood; however spotting it early can make treatment more effective.
It can be hard to imagine young children having mental health issues, but they do just like the rest of us. For infants and toddlers, though, it’s easier to view mental health through the lens of social and emotional development. That’s because healthy social and emotional development in young children is dependent on their loving and supportive relationships with parents and other caregivers. When children are not receiving the loving care they need, and even worse, when they experience persistent trauma or abuse, they are likely to exhibit behaviors that might be perceived as mental health issues.
Her ex-husband had recently started a life sentence in prison. A fire at her apartment complex, later followed by a flood, destroyed most of the family’s belongings. They were crammed into a two-bedroom apartment awaiting their next move. And her two-year-old son Malik was having signficant speech problems.
“I was so stressed and unorganized. I didn’t know what my next move was going to be,” she said.
The family was referred to the Early Childhood Mental Health Program (ECMHP) for wraparound mental health services, a team-based strategy to support families with complex needs. Wrap teams made up of service providers, a family advocate, and the parents’ friends, ministers, or family members help the family to set and meet goals. The idea is to reduce stress so parents can focus on developing healthy relationships with their children – the key to young children’s optimal social and emotional development.