ECMHC aims to build the capacity of childcare providers, families, programs and systems, in order to prevent and reduce the impact of mental health challenges and social emotional delays among children ages birth to 5. The system that exists in Illinois is coordinated by a state agency called Caregiver Connections, housed in Quincy, Illinois. Caregiver Connections subcontracts with many different agencies across the state in order to provide ECMHC locally to all of Illinois' 102 counties. For DuPage and Kane counties, the consultant is employed by Kane County Health Department in Aurora.
The goal of ECMHC is to shift our thoughts and understanding of behavior. Challenging behavior is stressed behavior, and you and your consultant can become “detectives" together, wondering about what might be stressful for a child in your care. Behavior change only occurs in relationship, so building your relationship with a particular child, parent, family, co-worker, etc. is what is going to get you to your goal of increased capacity and efficacy.
Reasons to Contact Your ECMHC:
- Challenges with a specific child in a classroom
- Overall classroom concerns- particularly those involving social-emotional skill building
- Challenges communicating with a parent or family
- Challenges among staff members, staff relationships
- Seeking support with social-emotional skillbuilding and understanding social emotional development
- Seeking Gateways approved trainings- typically on topics of social emotional skillbuilding
What the Process Looks Like:
- Childcare providers are the point of contact for ECMHC. If you are a parent seeking support for your child at his/her childcare center, please pass the contact information on to your childcare provider and they will contact the consultant directly.
- Once the provider makes contact, the consultant will send over paperwork to be completed prior the consultation and will setup a date to come out to do an observation of a child or classroom, have a meeting with the director/teachers, and/or have a meeting with the provider/parent, depending on the need of the particular situation.
- At the initial consultation, the consultant will explain her role in the process and discuss the length of the consultation and relationship.
- If you are seeking training, again, please contact your consultant directly to see what her schedule might allow. Trainings are free of charge, can be on-site at your childcare center, and are Gateways approved.
- Keep in mind that training and consultations may not be available on short notice. Anticipate approximately 4 weeks in between time of contact and initial visit. This can vary, but it is better to seek support sooner than later.
Contact Info for DuPage/Kane Counties Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant:
Susan Mrazek, PhD
Kane County Health Department, Aurora Office