In 2017, Orange County’s Early Childhood Mental Health Collaborative (ECMHC), a collaborative group of nine agencies committed to supporting young children’s mental health, founded Start Well (previously known as Early Childhood Mental Health and Wellness Program). Start Well is a program dedicated to building the social-emotional skills of young children, ages birth to eight. The program’s Early Childhood Mental Health Consultants build supportive, collaborative relationships with Early Care and Education (ECE) providers in family child care homes and center-based programs, providing information and guidance through a six step consultation process. Our program is built on the preeminent evidence-based practices in the field of early childhood mental health – Infant Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Model and the Pyramid Model. In early childhood, mental health and wellness consist of social emotional skills and development. Our vision is that ECE providers and families are skilled and competent in providing a nurturing environment focused on social and emotional well-being and behavioral health of all children.
Through these activities, we enable children to remain in early care sites, that understand and accommodate needs, and be ready for school academically, socially and emotionally. When ECE providers are able to identify and address mental health issues and behavior concerns as early as possible, the need for costly crisis intervention later and throughout a person’s life is also reduced.