CFS Heads Analysis Group for Children's Board
• 12% of children seen by the Early Childhood Screening program from April 1999 to January 2000 were identified with problem behaviors at home and/or in a child care setting.
• An estimated 20-30% of children 0-3 years of age served by the Early Intervention Program have behavioral concerns.
• During the past year, the Hillsborough County School System reported 550 preschool age children were referred for social work or psychology services.
• From October 1998 to July 2000, the FASST2: Early Childhood Enrichment Project served 116 preschool children with social/emotional problems.
An Analysis of the Early Childhood Mental Health System in Hillsborough County.
Research has confirmed that caregiver interactions with young children - and the experiences they provide them - greatly impact the child's emotional development, learning skills, and how they function later in life. Sadly, many children in Hillsborough County, as elsewhere, are exposed to stressful conditions during this critical period of infancy to preschool when brain development is rapid and most vulnerable to the environmental influences such as family instability, poor neighborhoods, family and community violence, substa nce abuse and mental illness.
Concern for our county's young children is increasing as local kindergarten and early care and learning programs report increasing numbers of children exhibiting serious emotional and behavioral problems.
With a desire to study the system of care in our community for these children, and to develop an action plan based on the findings, a group of collaborative partners have come together as the Analysis Group for the Social and Emotional Development of Young Children. Both providers and family members will conduct the study with funding provided by the Children's Board of Hillsborough County. The analysis, with the Department of Child and Family Studies (CFS) as lead agency, will be headed by Diane Powell. Debora Simmons and Eloise Boterf will provide additional help within CFS in conducting the study.
"Strengthening and filling gaps in the system of supports and services for young children with social and emotional issues will entail forging new linkages among service systems including health care, early care and education, family support, children's mental health, adult mental health, substance abuse and domestic violence," said Diane Powell.
The goals of the analysis are to:
- describe the local system of supports and services that foster healthy emotional and social development of children birth to 5 years and develop a graphical depiction of the system;
- identify the strengths, weaknesses and gaps in the current system of supports and services for young children with social and emotional problems and their families;
- identify best practices and effective national model programs; develop an action plan for strengthening the local system of supports and services for young children with emotional and behavioral problems;
- develop a funding identification plan to explore resources to support the action plan.
"The Analysis Group will work closely with the THINK project to ensure that the development and implementation of the action plan are congruent with existing efforts to strengthen the local children's mental health system," added Diane. The Tampa-Hillsborough Integrated Services for Kids (THINK) Project is a 5-year grant from the Center for Mental Health Services. This project seeks to integrate and improve services and outcomes for children with serious emotional disturbance and their families by blending funds across child serving systems, fully involving families in planning and service delivery, and enhancing advocacy efforts for these children. A comprehensive evaluation of this project will document implementation and outcomes over the five-year period. The THINK Project Director is CFS's Norin Dollard.
For additional information on the Analysis Group for the Social and Emotional Development of Young Children, Diane Powell can be reached at 813-974-4626.
The Department of Child and Family Studies (CFS) is a department of the Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute, University of South Florida. The faculty and staff of CFS are committed to enhancing the development, mental health and well-being of children and families through leadership in integrating research, theory & practice.