A recent report from the National Center for Children in Poverty, “Learning about Young Children’s Challenging Behavior and Impacts on Programs and Families: A State-wide Survey of Virginia’s Early Care and Education Teachers” report presents the efforts of the Early Childhood Mental Health Advisory Board (ECMHVA) to learn more about teachers’ experience with children who demonstrate challenging behavior in Virginia’s childcare settings. The ECMHVA Advisory Board partnered with the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) to design and implement a survey of Virginia’s early care and education (ECE) teachers that serve infants, toddlers and preschoolers in group settings. The survey and analysis of responses examined the following questions:
This survey and subsequent report highlights key findings:
What are the consequences of challenging behavior?
What supports do teachers believe will help them address the needs of children with challenging behaviors?
The results of this survey point to greater need for Virginia to invest in prevention efforts that specifically impact early childhood mental health. Luckily, there are policy solutions that specifically address the challenges this survey/report highlight. The recommendations my colleagues and I developed are policy solutions Virginia can invest in:
1.State-wide Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Program:
Given that a large number of children (0-5yrs) are expelled from their child care/preschool setting, Virginia should build on the strengths of Virginia’s current Early Childhood Mental Health consultation program to support the healthy development & school readiness of young children, 0 to 5 years, in early childhood settings throughout the state. Expansion of early childhood mental health consultation should aim to serve children birth through age five and ensure that it is available at all ECE programs. Furthermore, Virginia could partner with the National Center for Excellence in ECMH Consultation to build capacity using evidence-informed strategies.
2. Professional Development:
Given that a high percentage of teachers cited the need for training focused of social-emotional development, Virginia should expand professional development and coaching opportunities to focus on practices that promote children’s social-emotional growth and align these supports with a state-level Infant/ECMH consultation program.
3. Establish a process for further development of Virginia’s Expulsion Policy, building on the existing Guidelines for the Prevention of Suspension and Expulsion of Young Children(2017).
4. Help Me Grow: Establish the Help Me Grow (HMG) system in Virginia to help address the needs of families of children with challenging behavior. Help Me Grow connects families and providers to services for young children through a centralized help line and resource specialists.Read More Blog Posts