The Department of Mental Health today kicked off its new Healthy Futures Program, an early childhood mental health consultation initiative for children up to 5 years of age to promote positive social and emotional development. Healthy Futures aims to help young children develop appropriate skills to enter kindergarten ready to learn.
The Healthy Futures Program will locate early childhood mental health clinicians in 28 child development and head start centers across the District. Modeled on similar effective programs in other cities, Healthy Futures screens for early identification of emotional concerns so children and families can get the help they need.
In addition, the initiative trains teachers and administrators in effective behavior management techniques and how to access mental health resources. The Healthy Futures Program provides crisis intervention services and supports center staff on individual child behavior and classroom management.
“This initiative brings an important link in the public mental health system. It’s proven that early identification and treatment of emotional needs can prevent more complex problems later in life,” said Stephen T. Baron, Director of the Department of Mental Health.
Healthy Futures is co-sponsored by the Department of Health and funded in part by the Interagency Collaboration and Services Integration Commission (ICSIC) in the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education and a 5-year federal SAMSHA grant.
For more information about the Healthy Futures Program, call (202) 698-1871. For information and referral to services at the Department of Mental Health, call the 24/7 Access Helpline at 1-888-793-4357.