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Benefits of Early Childhood Mental Health Services

Note: This blog originally appeared on the Health and Human Services website. It tells the story of Jack, a 7-year-old who found counseling and support through the Early Childhood Mental Health Unit. Visit the program website or call 216-801-2778 to learn more.

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Many of the children and families served by DCFS have multiple complex issues and barriers to stability. Whether they are impacted by substance abuse, mental health concerns, domestic violence, or joblessness, the more issues they face, the harder it is to treat them. That is why DCFS has created the Early Childhood Mental Health Unit. This unit provides more intense interventions with children and families to help them through their issues.

Seven-year-old Jack was in the temporary custody of CCDCFS due to physical abuse.  He showed severe symptoms of PTSD, was at risk of losing his school placement and exhibited challenging behavior at home with his foster mother.   

While Jack was a little older than the children typically referred to ECMH for therapy services, he started working with the program because of the full range of services and supports available through ECMH Consultation and Therapy.

Jack received weekly counseling at home or school as well as the support of ECMH to help prepare him for potential court hearings.  His foster mother and school received ongoing education, developmental guidance, consultation and coaching as needed.

Since he began treatment, Jack developed a positive, supportive relationship with his older half-sibling. His school reports progress in his social-emotional development, utilizing coping and communication skills throughout the day.  He is able to stay in his foster home and his foster mother has learned strategies to support him when he is stuck. She knows when to be flexible and when to set limits.  Jack has learned to identify and share his emotions and how to talk about difficult thoughts and feelings.  He learned to stand up for himself and confidently share his experience.

While Jack still needs additional counseling due to his trauma history, ECMH interventions helped him progress significantly in his overall management of his symptoms and taught him how to function better at home and in the classroom. 

Learn more about the program and how to get help.