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Early Childhood Programs


Project BLOOM


Project BLOOM was funded through a system of care award from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) from 2002-2008. This award was the first made by SAMHSA under the Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services for Children and Their Families Initiative to explicitly address young children. The Division of Behavioral Health was awarded this cooperative agreement. Services were delivered in four Colorado communities; the counties of El Paso, Fremont, Mesa and Aurora. This project provided valuable background for much of the current work on early childhood mental health.

Blue Ribbon Policy Council


The Blue Ribbon Policy Council was convened in 2003 by three major early childhood initiatives and the Office of Behavioral Health to focus on comprehensive system building.  The convening initiatives were Project BLOOM, Harambe and Kid Connects. Although Project BLOOM and Harambe no longer have funding to support the work, the Strategic Plan developed by the Blue Ribbon Policy Council in 2008 continues to serve as a roadmap for policies that support the social/emotional well being of young children and their families as well as ensure that the principles of the system of care for young children guide the work. The Office of Behavioral Health continues to provide leadership to ensure that this plan is updated regularly to reflect current opportunities and challenges.


Diagnostic Classification of Mental Health and Developmental Disorders of Infancy and Early Childhood (DC:0-3R)


Nationally and in the State of Colorado the use of the Diagnostic Classification of Mental Health and Developmental Disorders of Infancy and Early Childhood (DC:0-3R) is recognized as best practice for the assessment of young children ages 0 through age 3. The system can also successfully be used for children up to the age of five.


Early Childhood Specialists


In 2002, the Colorado Department of Human Services advanced a decision item for $1.1 million to place an early childhood specialist at each one of the 17 publicly funded mental health centers as well as pay for supportive psychiatric services. Budget shortfalls delayed the start of the program until FY2007. Since that time the program has been continuously funded.

The position is a combination of direct services, consultative services to families and early care and education providers and cross-systems program development. The primary focus of direct services is non-Medicaid children and families.

Staff trained in the unique developmental issues of young children and housed at the mental health centers can work with other community agencies to develop and sustain appropriate programming for the mental health needs of young children. All early childhood specialists are trained in the use of DC: 0-3R. For current training information please see: http://jfkpartners.org/WorkshopsItem.asp?NUMBER=169



Mental Health Consultation


Mental Health Consultation is an effective approach for addressing the social and emotional needs of infants, toddlers and preschool children. As defined by Georgetown University, mental health consultation in early childhood settings is “a problem-solving and capacity-building intervention implemented within a collaborative relationship between a professional consultant with mental health expertise and one or more individuals primarily child care center staff with other areas of expertise, Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation aims to build the capacity (improve the ability) of staff, families, programs and systems to prevent, identify, treat and reduce the impact of mental health problems among children from birth to age 6 and their families” (Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation, SAMHSA, 2005)

In Colorado, mental health consultation was first addressed through two mental health early intervention pilots implemented through the Mental Health Center of Denver and the Mental Health Center serving Boulder and Broomfield counties. One of these early pilots developed as Kid Connects and was recognized by Georgetown University as one of six national exemplary programs. For the full report describing these six programs please go to http://gucchd.georgetown.edu.

In 2009, through a partnership with the Office of Behavioral Health, Office of Childcare and Office of Developmental Disabilities (Early Intervention Colorado) the Colorado Department of Human Services established the Colorado Center for Social Emotional Competence and Inclusion at the University of Colorado, Denver. This center works to improve the social and emotional competence and inclusion of children ages birth to five through the integration of the Pyramid Model, Special Quest and other evidence based practices.

The Pyramid Model for Promotion the Social and Emotional development was developed by the Center on the Social Emotional Foundations of Early Learning and the Technical Assistance Center on Social Emotional Intervention for Young Children. Special Quest Birth-Five, Head start/Hilton Training Program is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Head Start. For more information on the Colorado Center and these national models please visit http://www.pyramidplus.org/

Through a partnership with University of Colorado, Denver, JFK Partners, DBH continues to address the development of statewide infrastructure for mental health consultation.  A committee of the Blue Ribbon Policy Council developed recommendations that resulted in a requirement for family day care homes to obtain 3 of the required 15 hours of continuing education in the social and emotional domain. (Colorado Code of Regulations 12 CCR 2509-Rule Manual Volume 7, Section 707.32). In addition, the Offices of Behavioral Health/Childcare have received funding to develop community mental health consultation capacity. Some tools related to mental health consultation can be found on JFK’s website.

Claudia Zundel
Office of Behavioral Health
Colorado Department of Human Services
3824 West Princeton Circle
Denver, CO 80236
Phone: (303) 866-7528
Fax: (303) 866-7470

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