Promoting Policies That Support Young Children’s Mental Health

Young children growing up in poverty experience mental health challenges at higher rates than their more advantaged peers, and often suffer negative consequences, including lags in learning, trouble getting along with peers, and expulsion from preschool, when these problems are not addressed.  This project tracks and analyzes state policies that provide supports for young children’s mental health from birth through age 8; provides technical assistance to help advance state policies that benefit young children’s mental health; and conducts policy and teacher/provider surveys to produce new knowledge that can inform states’ efforts to strengthen early childhood mental health policies.  Recent surveys have focused on Medicaid coverage for key IECMH policies; state-wide surveys of early childhood teachers’ experience with young children’s challenging behavior and expulsion; and a 50-state survey, conducted with BUILD, that examines states’ expulsion prevention policies. This project also offers technical assistance to states related to expulsion policies, early childhood mental health consultation, and supports for IECMH in Part C.  

A related project, PRiSM, has an online, searchable collection of research-informed IECMH policies and scaled initiatives along with summaries of research evidenced for key IECMH strategies (e.g., IECMH screening, consultation, dyadic treatment).  PRiSM also conducts policy surveys; a recent 50-state policy survey examined the capacity of states’ Part C programs to identify and address infant-toddler mental health needs.

Funded by Alliance for Early Success

Project Publications
Supporting Young Children’s Mental Health — Other Resources

This powerpoint describes how Early Childhood Advisory Councils and other policy groups can develop measurable benchmarks related to broader goals for the expansion and improvement of supports for young children’s mental health; creating these benchmarks can help states monitor their progress toward key goals. This powerpoint was used in a series of technical assistance conference calls with states that are working to strengthen state-wide early childhood mental health supports, and could be used by others as a guide to creating benchmarks. Please contact Sheila Smith, project director, if you need assistance in using this tool:

This webinar and powerpoint present a set of options for expanding and strengthening the quality of supports for young children’s mental health; a planning tool for use by Early Childhood Advisory Councils and other policy groups to use in considering these options and establishing goals and strategies; and information from two states that used the planning tool. Please contact Sheila Smith, project director, if you need assistance in using this tool:


For more information about Promoting Policies that Support Young Children’s Mental Health, please contact:

Sheila Smith, PhD
National Center for Children in Poverty
215 West 125th Street, 3rd floor
New York, NY 10027
(646) 284-9643