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Orange County expands early childhood mental health consultation services

Orange County is expanding Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation services for children up to eight years old.

“Children have experienced unexpected stressors as a result of the pandemic,” said Supervisor Andrew Do, Chairman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors. “As students return to the classroom this fall, for the first time in over a year for many, parents and teachers must work together with mental health professionals to improve their student’s social, emotional, and behavioral health and development.”

On August 10th, the Orange County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved an amendment to the contract with Charitable Ventures of Orange County to increase the early childhood mental health consultation services to children up to eight years old. Chairman Andrew Do, seconded by Vice Chairman Doug Chaffee, proposed to include an additional $5 million dollars in funding from the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA).

Early childhood mental health consultation is a prevention-based service that educates and builds the capacity of staff, programs, and systems in childcare settings to prevent, identify, treat, and reduce the impact of mental health problems among young children and their families.

“We saw how young children faced many challenges over the past year such as disruptions to their daily routines, adjusting to virtual learning, and missing seeing their friends and family,” said Supervisor Doug Chaffee, Vice Chairman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors. “This prevention-focused approach will help strengthen their social and emotional wellbeing during the pandemic and beyond.”

Under the approved amendment, Charitable Ventures, an Orange County-based nonprofit, will support the community’s increased need for services to families with young children. These services will be provided by mental health consultants who have extensive knowledge in trauma, adverse childhood experiences, challenging behaviors, and social and emotional skills development and can appropriately train childcare educators.

Training will be offered at early childhood education sites, community-based organizations, as well as virtually for a period of three to six months.

“These services will equip our early childhood providers, school districts, and local community youth leaders with the proper knowledge and training needed to ensure healthy development in young children despite the stressors they may be experiencing,” added Supervisor Do.

From July 2020 to April 2021, Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation services reached over 1,500 children in Orange County. With an anticipated increase in urgency for mental and emotional assistance in response to the pandemic, these services aim to double and reach at least 3,000 children by 2022.

“It’s critical that we continue to train educators, faculty, and members of the community across Orange County to recognize and identify signs of mental or behavioral issues in students and connect them to resources,” said Supervisor Doug Chaffee.

In 2020, the Orange County Board of Supervisors approved their first contract for Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant services with Charitable Ventures. Since then, Chairman Do and Vice Chairman Chaffee have continued to improve the realm of mental health in Orange County through numerous measures.

The article above was released by the Orange County Board of Supervisors.