Infant Early Childhood Mental Health (IECMH)
Why Infant Early Childhood Mental Health is Important?
Infant early childhood mental health is synonymous with healthy social and emotional development. It is developing capacity of the child from birth to age 5 to:
- form close and secure inter-personal relationships
- experience, regulate and express emotions; and
- explore the environment and learn in the context of family, community, and cultural expectations from young children.
IECMH Consultation Program
What is the Infant Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Program?
The IECMH Consultation Program in Pennsylvania emerged as a response to a 2006 report from the BUILD Infant-Toddler Task Force, which provided recommendations for improving social-emotional outcomes for the state’s young children. That same year, IECMH Consultation was piloted in the state.
As a result of the program’s early success, the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) funded a statewide implementation of IECMH Consultation to continue to support the early childhood system workforce in supporting the social and emotional development of infants, toddlers and very young children. Over the course of the past 14 years, the program has had continued support and sustainable funding from the state as a result of continuous quality improvement efforts, evaluation (internal and external) strategies, program outcomes that reduce expulsion risk, as well as demonstration of the large demand for these supports by childcare programs across the state. While originally implemented in collaboration with OCDEL’s regional business partners (formally the Regional Keys), beginning in FY 2019-2020 the Pennsylvania Key added the talented consultants to our staff complement. This strategy has created a single point of referral for the entire state, has improved our ability to consistently triage requests, manage a wait list, monitor equitable distribution of services, and maximize our ability to identify gaps in coverage and reallocate staff assignments. As a result of this change, we have expanded our staff complement to a total of 29. Our team is regionally based across the Commonwealth to serve and support childcare programs participating in Keystone STARS, including center, family and group-based care.
Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health (IECMH) Consultation is a free resource that supports children’s social- emotional development from birth through age 5 within early learning programs participating in Keystone STARS.
How the IECMHC Program can Help Children, Families, and Early Child Education Providers
Through a reflective, collaborative, problem-solving and capacity-building relationship, mental health consultation encourages adults to build stronger relationships with infants and young children so that they feel safe, supported, and valued.
IECMH Consultants Help Caregivers of Infants and Young Children To:
- Recognize every child’s strengths and potential
- Reflect on the power and impact of nurturing relationships
- Figure out what’s really going on when a child is “challenging”
- Respond to problem behaviors in an nurturing and positive way
- Help children develop important skills, like sharing, getting along with others, and resolving conflict
- Connect with children in ways that promote their growth and development
- Create supportive environments for children
- Build relationships with families
- Share about supportive services and resources in the community.
IECMH Consultants Offer
IECMH Consultants specialize in early childhood development and mental health and well-being. They work with parents and caregivers in the early care and education setting to provide:
- Onsite or virtual classroom observations
- Screening/assessment strategies for children and classrooms
- A process to identify strengths and opportunities for growth
- Facilitate the creation of an action plan to support children and classroom staff
- Referrals for additional supports if need is identified
Mental health consultation is not about “fixing kids.” Nor is it therapy. Mental health consultants’ partner with adults to facilitate healthy growth and development for infants and young children. Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health consultation provides support for parents and childcare professionals who work with children experiencing persistent or puzzling challenges.
Benefit of IECMH Consultation
- Stronger relationships between children and the adults who care for them
- Increased resiliency for children
- Increase in caregiver reflective practice skills
- Reduced caregiver stress
- Improved school readiness for children
- Fewer incidents of challenging behaviors
- Reduction in expulsion and suspension practices
To Find Out More or Request IECMH Consultation:
- Download and share our program brochure. (PDF)
- Request IECMH services by completing the Pennsylvania Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Program Request for IECMHC Services Full Application (Fillable PDF). Submit the form via email PAIECMH@pakeys.org or fax 717-213-3749.
- Contact program leadership directly. Programs and families email PAIECMH@pakeys.org with questions or concerns.
- Subscribe our enewsletter and read past editions.
The Pennsylvania Key IECMHC Virtual Office Hours
The Pennsylvania Key Infant-Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (IECMHC) Program is offering a new service: IECMHC Virtual Office Hours. IECMHC Virtual Office Hours accepts appointments for office hours throughout Pennsylvania. IECMH Consultants are available by appointment to provide IECMHC Virtual Office Hours consultation via telephone or video conference. IECMHC Virtual Office Hours is a short-term, collaborative, problem-solving conversation to help you find next steps for: Child Social-Emotional Concerns; Child Behavioral or Developmental Concerns; Emotional Well-being of Teachers and Caregivers; and Partnering with Families
Services are available at no cost to families, child care professionals and specialists supporting Keystone STARS child care programs. We invite:
- Teachers, directors, and staff in center, family, and group-based child care programs
- Families with children attending child care programs
- Early Intervention (Birth-3 & 3-5) professionals
- Keystone STARS Quality Coaches
- Mental Health/Behavioral Health agencies
- Home Visiting and Family Support Programs
IECMH Consultation helps adults strengthen their relationships with young children and build capacity to respond to children’s social-emotional needs. IECMHC can help reduce caregiver stress, as well as increase caregivers’ reflective practice skills.
- Figure out what’s really going on when a child exhibits challenging behaviors
- Reflect and respond to problem behaviors with the power and impact of nurturing relationships
- Build partnerships with families
- Share community resources
- Consider your next steps and where to go from here
Appointments are held on the first and third Fridays of the month, or other days/times by request. To schedule an appointment, register here.
Infant Early Childhood Mental Health (IECMH) Matters Resources
- ECMH_Basic Needs Determine Behavior
- ECMH_Building Resilience
- ECMH_Chasing Away Winter Blues
- ECMH_Creating Routines
- ECMH_Dealing With Separation And Divorce
- ECMH_Depression in Preschoolers
- ECMH_Developing Empathy
- ECMH_Emotional Literacy
- ECMH_Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
- ECMH_Five Protective Factors
- ECMH_Handling Transitions
- ECMH_Imitation is Flattery
- ECMH_Importance of Play
- ECMH_Language Development in Children
- ECMH_Learning Is Everywhere
- ECMH_Meaning of Behavior
- ECMH_Mental Health and Outdoor Play
- ECMH_Moral Development Raising Caring Kids
- ECMH_Motivating the Desire To Learn
- ECMH_Nurturing Curiosity
- ECMH_Problem Solving
- ECMH_Ready To Read
- ECMH_Rethinking The Stoplight System
- ECMH_Screening For Delays Social-Emotional Development
- ECMH_Security Objects
- ECMH_Self Regulation
- ECMH_Sensory Issues
- ECMH_Sensory Processing Disorder
- ECMH_Separation Anxiety
- ECMH_Sexual Development In Children
- ECMH_Stop the Whining
- ECMH_Stress Trauma and Early Brain Development
- ECMH_Super Hero Play
- ECMH_Supervisory Structures: Promoting Social-Emotional Development
- ECMH_Supporting Left Handed Children
- ECMH_Take Care Of Yourself
- ECMH_Taming the Jealousy Monster
- ECMH_Tech and Young Children
- ECMH_Temper Tantrums
- ECMH_Temperamental Differences
- ECMH_Toddlers Who Bite
- ECMH_To Nap Or Not To Nap
- ECMH_Transitions At Home and Child Care
- ECMH_Using Circle Time
- ECMH_What Is Early Childhood Mental Health?
- ECMH_When Young Children are Exposed To Violence
- ECMH_You Choose!
- Pennsylvania’s Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Program 2019-2021 Annual Report (PDF)
- Pennsylvania Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation: External Evaluation Report, 2016-17 (PDF)
- ECMH Consultation Report 2011-12 (PDF)
- PA ECMH End of Year Report 2011-12 (PDF)
- PA Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Program Annual Report 2012-2013 (PDF)
- A Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Program Annual Report 2013-2014 (PDF)
- May 2016: Implementing Program-Wide Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports in Pennsylvania (PDF)
- May 2020: Holding Space Regulation Resources
- May 2020: Holding Space Reassurance Resources
- May 2020: Holding Space Relationship Resources
- May 2020: Holding Space Resilience Resources
For more information on Infant Early Childhood Mental Health:
- Our IECMH Consultation model is grounded in The Pyramid Model. The Pyramid Model was developed by applied researchers who used scientifically anchored practices to create a functional and adaptable framework to assist early care and education programs, teachers, and families to enhance social and emotional learning of young children with confidence and competence in the real world. Learn about the Pyramid Model for Promoting the Social Emotional Competence of Young Children (Center on the Social-Emotional Foundations for Early Learning).
- Meet our IECMH team in Pennsylvania! The Pennsylvania Key now boast 29 regionally based team members to support a single point of referral for the entire state, which has improved our ability to consistently triage requests, manage a wait list, monitor equitable distribution of services, and maximize our ability to identify gaps in coverage and reallocate staff assignments.
- Learn about Ages and Stages Questionnaire. The tool is quick and easy to administer and score. The ASQ was designed to be completed by parents. This system is being used across various state and county programs, such as Early Care and Education, Early Head Start and Head Start, Early Intervention for developmental monitoring and OCYF.
- Learn more about the Infant-Toddler Temperament Tool. The Infant Toddler Temperament Tool (IT3) was developed for the Center for Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation, an Innovation and Support Project funded by the Office of Head Start.
- Obtain more IECMH resources and references.