ZERO TO THREE Poster Session, October 2019

Innovative Engagement of the Head Start Community to Enhance State Level IECMH System Efforts

Brandy Fox, LCSW, IECMH-E® and Tracy Duarte


The Pennsylvania Head Start State Collaboration Office (HSSCO) uses a regional roundtable framework with Head Start (HS) and Early Head Start (EHS) grantees to enhance relationships, build systems, and promote comprehensive quality services. Roundtable meeting formats are flexible and provide for an organic discussion to occur both in small groups (at each table) and in the larger group. This venue encourages giving and receiving targeted feedback, engaging in in-depth discussions, and meeting and networking with colleagues with similar interests.

Regional Round Table Topics:

  • Managed Care Organization Liaisons
  • A Deep Dive into HS/EHS Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation
  • Opioid and Substance Use Disorder
  • Head Start and Early Intervention– Coordinated Approaches to Serving Children with Disabilities
  • Community Collaborations to Improve Services to Children and Families Experiencing Homelessness


The HSSCO frequently provides an opportunity for HS and EHS programs to come together with program staff from other systems of care, to build collaboration and partnership on the local level with the objectives of:

  • Organic, flexible networking opportunities
  • Systems building at the state and local level
  • Developing local partnerships and collaborations
  • Building systems of coordinated care for children and families
  • Dissemination and sharing of information and resources


  • Increased knowledge of partners and providers at the local level
  • Improved systems connections at both state and local levels
  • Increased coordination of care for families and children
  • Increased knowledge on targeted topic
  • Improved systems of identification of the needs of children and families
  • Increased referrals

From the round table topics, themes related to Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health (IECMH) continued to surface. It became clear that Pennsylvania HS/EHS programs did not necessarily view themselves as a collective stakeholder group that could influence State IECMH Systems Efforts. As a result, a modified version of the round table framework was used to develop a set of recommendations highlighting the need for the Pennsylvania behavioral health system to have IECMH-informed practitioners, evidenced-based interventions for children 0-5, increased access to said services, and increase community collaborations with the HS/EHS community.


An imperative strategy to inform state policy makers, guide IECMH system efforts and improve IECMH systems across the nation is the engagement of stakeholders. Engagement occurs by recognizing the opportunities provided by state and federal initiatives such as Project LAUNCH, System of Care and the Preschool Development Grant, and engaging the HS community as stakeholders with powerful data sets. The recommendations are pending submission to ensure alignment and relevance to upcoming regulatory changes within the Pennsylvania behavioral health system.


Pennsylvania thanks State & Regional PartnersPA Department of Human Services, PA Department of Health, PA Department of Education – Homeless Education Program, PA Office of Child Development and Early Learning, PA Office of Medical Assistance Programs, PA Bureau of Managed Care, PA Education of Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness, PA on Homelessness Task Force, People’s Emergency Center, PA Key IECMHC Program and Regional Early Intervention 0-3 and 3-5 Programs