Pilot Program Successfully Addresses Mental Health Issues In Pennsylvania's Children

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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Pennsylvania's youngest citizens are benefiting from improvements in the quality of social and emotional supports through an innovative pilot program, according to a report released by the University of Pittsburgh and announced by the Department of Public Welfare.

Focused on reducing the number of children removed from care due to behavior issues, the Early Childhood Mental Health Project helps provide supports for the teachers, parents and caregivers of children whose social and emotional development may not be progressing on par with their peers. As a result of these services, children are more likely to receive the support they need to receive a quality early education, achieve in school, and are less likely to be expelled from early learning programs.

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"The Early Childhood Mental Health project helps early learning professionals connect children-in-need with programs that can strengthen their ability to successfully participate in a classroom," said Secretary of Public Welfare Estelle B. Richman. "By improving the quality of early learning that the child and the others in the classroom receive, we can help children address social behaviors before they reach the point of being removed from a program."

Funded by the Heinz Endowments, the report, "Evaluation of the Infant/Toddler Systems Building Initiatives: Final Report for the Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Program," evaluated the implementation of the program as well as key activities and program contributions at various pilot sites across the state from June 2006 to June 2008.

By the end of the pilot phase, nearly 70 percent of children demonstrated their original issues had ceased or had significantly decreased, or they had been referred to other support services.

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