Head Start embraces a vision of “Mental Wellness” for all children, parents and staff. The mental health goals are interwoven throughout all services and activities offered by the program. The ultimate goal is that all participating children will be “Socially Prepared” when they complete Head Start and transition to kindergarten.
The social & emotional well-being of every child is important to the program. Children are taught skills which will develop a good sense of self-esteem, self-identity and self-worth. Additional social skills activities will be part of the classroom teacher’s lesson planning activities. Children will be taught in following the rules, listening skills, following directions, sharing, cooperation, self-discipline and any others social skills.
All children enrolled in Head Start/Early Head Start receive an initial screening for social, emotional and behavioral abilities. When children are having difficulties with behavioral and/or emotional well-being, the program has a Licensed Mental Health Consultant available to our program on a consultative basis. The Consultant is available to our staff, parents and children when assistance is requested.
Parental permission will always be secured before any mental health services are provided directly for a child. The Consultant will work with the parents and staff for a child who may need a more direct strategy in increasing their social abilities.
When any child is having difficulties adjusting to daily routine, following rules, and displaying self-discipline, the Mental Health Specialist, Mental Health Consultant, Education Center Coordinator or teacher will always be willing to conference with the parents to develop possible strategies to assist the child in making necessary modifications for home and school environment.
Levels of Mental Health Interventions
Prevention: (Universal) Activities and strategies are designed to help staff, children and families learn and to practice good mental wellness skills, which helps them to remain mentally healthy. The program staff helps to develop and create experiences, which build positive relationships between the children, staff and families. Parent and staff trainings are provided through the program and through established community mental health agencies.
Identification/Referral: Early Intervention is a key factor for a child who may need a little extra help developmentally. Our program conducts classroom observations, screenings, formal and informal emotional and behavioral assessments to assist in identifying the possible need for a referral for mental health services.
Treatment: Once it has been determined that a child is eligible for mental health program services, a collaborative individualized plan is developed with input from parent, HS staff, and mental health provider.