ZERO TO THREE will help NC tackle early childhood mental health challenges
Posted on 08.31.2016, Wednesday

North Carolina is one of ten states recently selected to participate in an upcoming ZERO TO THREE Policy Center convening to advance state policy related to infant and early childhood mental health. This opportunity will focus on strategies to improve mental health assessment and treatment of very young children at a state-wide level.

Following a competitive process, representatives from governmental agencies, advocacy organizations, and child- and family-serving programs in the following states were selected: Alaska, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon and Virginia.

“We know that children’s earliest experiences – both positive and negative – affect their brain formation,” said Matthew Melmed, executive director of ZERO TO THREE. “The period from birth to age 5 is critical to future success, and we are pleased that policymakers, in Congress and in states, are increasingly aware of, and investing in, infant and early childhood mental health.”

It is estimated that between 9.5 percent and 14.2 percent of children age birth to 5 experience an emotional or behavioral disturbance. Congress is on the verge of addressing infant and early childhood mental health for the first time by including a provision in mental health reform to address prevention, intervention, and treatment programs specifically for very young children.

You can help push this legislation over the finish line by taking part in today’s Infant-Early Childhood Mental Health Day of Action!

But states continue to be faced with many challenges in the infant and early childhood mental health field, including developing and financing assessments, developmentally appropriate diagnosis, and evidence-informed treatment. The goal of the ZERO TO THREE convening this fall is to identify state strategies to align healthcare finance policy, specifically Medicaid, with infant and early childhood mental health practice.

The opportunity is supported in part by the Irving Harris Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Minnesota, and presented in partnership with BUILD and the Minnesota Department of Human Services, Children’s Mental Health Division.

ZERO TO THREE works to ensure all babies and toddlers benefit from the family and community connections critical to their well-being and development. Since 1977, the organization has advanced the proven power of nurturing relationships by transforming the science of early childhood into helpful resources, practical tools and responsive policies for millions of parents, professionals and policymakers.

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