Introduction to the Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Needs Assessment
Welcome to the Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (ECMHC) Needs Assessment! The purpose of this tool is to collect information that will help you to identify strengths and weaknesses of your current mental health consultation services, based on what is currently known about "best practices" in ECMHC. The on-line tool will provide you with links to information and resources that can help you continue to improve your ECMHC services and make the most effective use of your consultation dollars.
Overview of Needs Assessment Process
There are 7 basic steps to the Needs Assessment Process:
- Establish a Mental Health Workgroup. We strongly recommend that you view the Needs Assessment process as a group or team project. Start by creating a "Mental Health Workgroup" or use an existing working group or committee. Ideally, the team would include program managers (especially the person with oversight of your mental health component); teaching staff; other staff; and the program director. Parent might also be included in this process. Because the process can identify issues or concerns with your current mental health consultant(s), your discretion should be used about whether or not to include a consultant in the needs assessment team.
The charge to this team is to help identify strengths and weaknesses of your program's mental health consultation services, and to create a plan for addressing weaknesses and building on strengths.
- Ask each team member to complete the on-line Needs Assessment Survey (either the Teacher Survey or the Manager Survey - coming soon). These on-line tools take about 10-15 minutes to complete.
- Have the Program Director complete the Program Information Survey (coming soon). This survey is critical for collecting information about your ECMHC model, and takes about 20 minutes to complete.
- After completing these surveys, have each team member print out their individualized report. These reports use the information provided by each person to generate a list of what this person sees as strengths and weakness of the ECMHC services.
- Convene a 2-hour meeting to review each person's report and develop consensus about program strengths and weaknesses, and to outline a plan for gathering information and addressing program challenges. Ideally, this information can be incorporated into a Mental Health Strategic Plan for your program (see Administrator's Toolkit, Tutorial 4, Module 2).
- Share this information broadly with your staff and Parent Council to solicit additional feedback and ideas.
- Implement a process for improving and strengthening your ECHMC services.
A Note About This Process
Having individual staff complete the needs assessment as an independent activity can be helpful, as can having specific key staff such as the Mental Health component manager and/or the program director. Anyone who completes the Survey will receive feedback that can be helpful to program improvement. However, we recommend the process outlined above as the best approach for a comprehensive program improvement effort focused on mental health and mental health consultation.