A regional provider of comprehensive behavioral health services has been awarded nearly $800,000 to continue its work providing social and emotional support for children in licensed child care facilities.
The $772,706 Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Grant from the Healey-Driscoll administration will support Behavioral Health Network’s Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Program, a service that provides support and guidance to child care programs, teachers and families to address the needs of children with challenging behaviors, mental health disorders, developmental delays, and/or those at risk of suspension or expulsion. The grant is $107,000 more than what BHN received last year, according to Robert Churchill, senior director of children’s outreach programming.
“The grant really can be provided in three ways,” said Churchill. “We can work with individual kids, we could work with an entire classroom, or if the need is here, we could work with an entire program.”
Overall, $4.5 million was awarded statewide.
“We have a mental health crisis that has only been made worse by the pandemic, particularly for our youngest kids,” Gov. Maura Healey said in a statement. “Our administration is continuing to help break down the stigma behind seeking treatment while ensuring that Massachusetts residents know how they can access the health care and support they deserve — no matter how small. These grants will provide early education and care programs with the tools and resources needed to help educators identify kids [who are] struggling and support families in accessing help.”
BHN, which serves communities throughout the four counties of western Massachusetts, is currently involved with about 35 child care programs in the region, with room to grow thanks to the grant. The organization also subcontracts with the Collaborative for Educational Services, which serves between 25 and 30 programs, according to Churchill. Matthew Matroni, director of the Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Program, said the organization has seen a “dramatic increase” in the number and intensity of referrals for mental health services.