A year of progress for Durham’s Early Childhood Mental Health Task Force
Posted on 02.01.2017, Wednesday

Durham’s Early Childhood Mental Health Task Force was established one year ago, and the Partnership has been instrumental in guiding and supporting the work of the Task Force from day one.

The Partnership convened a community meeting in August 2015 for stakeholders and providers to come together to identify the mental health needs of Durham’s young children. The Task Force was developed as a result of this meeting in order to have a collaborative and unified group working specifically on this issue. The Task Force is led by a Steering Committee made up of the Partnership, Durham Head Start, Exchange Family Center, Duke Integrative Pediatric Mental Health, and the Child Development Services Association.

The mission of the Task Force is:

To support the social, emotional and mental health needs of children under 5 in Durham County by increasing access to evidenced-based services through awareness and collective action.

The Task Force met first in January 2016. In the first two meetings, the group members identified four priority areas for the Task Force to work on based on suggestions from the North Carolina Institute of Medicine’s Growing Up Well Report (2012). The Priorities are:

  • Raise awareness of the mental health, social and emotional needs of young children.
  • Strengthen and expand evidence-based programs.
  • Increase understanding of the role of social emotional development among early care and education professionals.
  • Develop a coordinated system for young children’s mental health needs.

Children’s earliest experiences – both positive and negative – affect their brain formation, and the period from birth to age 5 is critical to future success. It is estimated that 9.5% – 14.2% of children age birth to 5 in the United States experience an emotional or behavioral disturbance. The Task Force is dedicated to leading the conversation in Durham about mental health reform to address prevention, intervention, and treatment programs specifically for young children.

The priority groups work together during the task force meetings, which take place every other month on the 4th Thursday. Upcoming 2017 meetings are scheduled for February 24th, April 28th and June 23rd, from 11:00am-12:30pm at Legacy Enrichment Center (2601 Hillsborough Road, Durham, NC 27705. Enter through Main Street parking lot). For more information, please contact Wren Davisson.

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