On November 7th, the Northern Region Learning Community convened Part II of a 4-Part Series focused on Early Childhood Mental Health (ECMH). Six venues were available for participation. The hub location in Eureka at Changing Tides Family Services, four remote locations in Ukiah, Lakeport, Alturas, and Redding, as well as online participation. The four-part series is a collaboration between Strategies 2.0 and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, Oakland, Early Intervention Services. Part II, presented by Barbara Ivins, zeroed in on “Thinking Developmentally About Risk and Protective Factors.” The presentation addressed three key objectives: (1) to identify risk and protective factors, (2) to look at the use of screening as surveillance and intervention—identifying red flags for Mental Health difficulties in young children by age, and (3) practice using screening as an intervention. Several screening tools were presented and discussed, such as the ASQ/SE, DECA, PSC-35, PHQ-9 or PHQ-2, Edinburgh, MCHAT, SWYC, PEARLS, CPP Symptom Screener, and the Benevolent Childhood Experiences. Most of these screeners were familiar to participants. The Benevolent Childhood Experiences Screen was unfamiliar, but of special interest because of its unique perspective on strengths. Participants were asked to consider what screening is: a way to find out who needs a particular kind of help or services; a way to find out how many people in a population are impacted by a particular concern: a way to estimate how serious a problem might be; a way to triage and begin to help (intervention); or an opening to a conversation. Participants also considered how screening is most frequently used in the work they do, and how we begin to tackle the challenge of screening without a place to make a referral. This challenge generated stimulating discussion around developing inner resources and internal narrative related to qualities such as resilience, hope, compassion, positivity, and joy instead of relying only on referral to external resources for assistance. Participants also reviewed a “Word Cloud” that LC participants created in session I, expressing key qualities that promote relationship building with families. Consideration was given to how these words factor into a common language and could be used more intentionally within screening practices.
The session concluded with a reflection on screening and practices that are currently being used and/or could be promoted among Learning Community participants. The Benevolent Childhood Experiences Screen was most frequently cited as a tool that could be added into current practice. Participants indicated they were using most of the screeners that were presented and that it was important to maintain fidelity to the screening protocol. Other tools used among participants were the MIM Assessment, ACEs, and CANS. The Word Cloud was frequently referenced to re-iterate the importance of being strength-based, build trust, remain non-judgmental and give encouragement. When asked what screening is, any of the options in the above paragraph would be appropriate contingent on context. For instance, screening for numbers impacted by a particular concern can be very useful when seeking funding and resources or working toward sustainability. Funding sources may also determine the use of screening tools. However, most agreed that screening is a means to open conversation.
Session III of the Learning Community will focus on “Introducing and Applying a Comprehensive Framework for Understanding Young Children’s Behavior.” Mark your calendar 2/20/2020; 1:00 – 4:00. The hub will be in Lakeport (Lake County), other remote sites listed above. Please join us!