As early childhood providers prepare to implement policies that prevent expulsions of young children, it is critical to discuss Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health (IECMH). We know that children struggling with social-emotional issues or trauma may exhibit challenging behaviors. It is essential for providers to have the necessary supports in place so children have successful learning experiences now and into the future, but many providers lack the necessary resources or feel unprepared to fully understand and address children’s mental health needs.
Children’s mental health and social-emotional development play a critical role in their ability to learn and thrive – in classrooms, workplaces, and interpersonal relationships. The foundation for future success is laid in the earliest years. Trauma or toxic stress can have lasting impacts on a child’s brain development and mental health, which can impair his or her ability to succeed in school and life. Therefore, prevention and early intervention are crucial to supporting children’s healthy development. Children’s social-emotional development occurs within the context of their relationships. Strong, stable relationships with family members, early childhood care providers, and other adults promote their social-emotional learning and mental health. It is important that mental health needs are addressed in children’s natural environments and their caregivers are involved. For example, early childhood providers who have concerns about a child’s social-emotional development can engage an
Children’s social-emotional development occurs within the context of their relationships. Strong, stable relationships with family members, early childhood care providers, and other adults promote their social-emotional learning and mental health. It is important that mental health needs are addressed in children’s natural environments and their caregivers are involved. For example, early childhood providers who have concerns about a child’s social-emotional development can engage an Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant, who can support the provider and the child’s family in understanding and addressing the child’s behavior, as well as identifying strategies to support the child in their early childhood program.
Resources such as mental health consultation and the professional development opportunities below aim to build providers’ capacity to promote the healthy development of all children in their care.
For more information on the importance of early childhood mental health, visit:
In recent years, national attention has turned to the expulsion of young children (0-5) from child care and preschool settings and the impact that has on children and families. In response, the State of Illinois passed Public Act 100-105 to promote best practices in disciplinary actions and grow early childhood providers’ capacity to address challenging behaviors by connecting providers with existing resources and supports. PA 100-105 prohibits the expulsion of young children (0-5) due to child behavior in licensed child care settings and early childhood programs receiving funds from the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE).
For more information on early childhood expulsion and Illinois’ new expulsion law, please visit:
There are a host of professional development opportunities available to early childhood practitioners in Illinois, whether you’re looking to grow your understanding of IECMH issues, strengthen your skills to support children’s social-emotional learning, or join other leaders in efforts to improve the IECMH system.
Training and Other Learning Opportunities
Early childhood practitioners have access to trainings related to social-emotional learning and development through the various professional development systems – such as Gateways Registry and Child Care Resource & Referral training offerings for child care providers. Many early childhood conferences and symposiums offer workshops on infant early childhood mental health or related issues. You can learn more about trainings through the the Illinois Association for Infant and Mental Health and stay up to date on training opportunities.
If you have questions or concerns about behaviors of children, birth through age five, visit Caregiver Connections to find an IECMH consultant in your area.
Thursday, February 22nd from 12pm-1pm
Join IAFC’s Public Policy team for a webinar on February 22nd where we’ll be sharing highlights from Governor Rauner’s proposed FY2019 state budget and what it would mean for early childhood. We will also introduce IAFC’s state policy priorities to let you know how we will be advocating for the early childhood field in Springfield this year. Click here to register!
Join Illinois Action for Children’s Public Policy and Advocacy team for our annual Spring into Action Conference on April 9-10, 2018. This exciting, two-day conference brings together statewide early care and education providers, educators, parents and advocates. You won’t want to miss this great opportunity to network with others in the field and engage in advocacy during our visit to the state capitol.
Two-thirds of Americans are exposed to extreme stress in childhood, things like divorce, a death in the family or a caregiver's substance abuse. And this early adversity, if experienced in high enough doses, "literally gets under our skin, changing people in ways that can endure in their bodies for decades," Burke Harris writes in her new book, The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity
Dunedin is the Goldilocks of longitudinal studies. It's not the biggest or the longest; but its high retention rate—about 95% of the original cohort has stayed with the study since it launched—and the intimacy of the data-gathering process make the group one of the most closely examined populations on Earth. Every few years, the team conducts intensive cognitive, psychological, and health assessments. They interview every member of the research cohort as well as their teachers, families, and friends and review their financial and legal records, promising them complete confidentiality in return for the fullest possible picture of their lives.
A human baby's brain is not fully developed at birth. Rapid brain development occurs in the first few years of life and then steadies into childhood and adolescence. The biodevelopmental impact of exposure to severe forms of stress and trauma is not immediately visible. But abuse, neglect, poverty and related stressful exposures can put children at risk for problems with healthy cognitive, social and emotional development, which can interfere with learning. Thus, research has shown that these adverse childhood experiences not only contribute to health outcomes, but there appears to be a link with adult educational attainment.
A new report by Vanessa Sacks and David Murphey finds that 45 percent of children in the United States have experienced at least one adverse childhood experience. Economic hardship and parental divorce or separation are the most common, both nationally and in almost every state. The prevalence of other adverse childhood experiences (including parental incarceration, parental death, and other experiences) varies by state and by race and ethnicity. Black and Hispanic children are more likely than white children to have had at least one adverse childhood experience.