Mental health issues have increased significantly during the pandemic, with recent data demonstrating concerning rates of anxiety and depression among adults; grief, anxiety, and behavioral issues among young children; and a diminished and heavily burdened early childhood workforce.
In March 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) awarded funds to states, territories, and tribes to provide relief from the impacts of COVID-19. Federal agencies identified mental health concerns as a top priority and infant and early childhood mental health consultation (IECMHC) as a key approach. IECMHC is a preventative mental health intervention that focuses on child, family, and staff wellbeing, and builds the capacities of early childhood programs to address mental health issues and promote wellness.
Many states have unused ARPA funds that could be allocated or re-allocated to address children’s mental health needs. The purpose of this brief is to offer state, territorial, and tribal decision-makers concrete and actionable recommendations for using ARPA funds to build IECMHC systems that increase access to high-quality IECMHC, especially for populations that have experienced disproportionate impacts from the pandemic. The brief is tailored to administrators who oversee Child Care, Head Start/Early Head Start, and IDEA Part B and Part C programs.
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