National Center for Effective Mental Halth Consultation
   

Entering the Early Care and Education Program

Program Readiness for Consultation

Care Provider with InfantThe early care and education program and staff must be ready for the presence of the mental health consultant and mental health consultation services. The cultural perspectives of the organization as well as the individual staff members both come into play. Under the leadership of the ECE program director, much of the organizational preparation for a consultant coming on board should take place prior to the consultant's arrival.

The process of preparing for and supporting implementation of ECMHC services includes a supportive program director, a vision and program culture that embraces a mental health perspective, and administrative structures that help incorporate consultation into the ECE program services. This process is well described in Tutorial 8 Developing a Vision and Strategic Planning for Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Services and Tutorial 9: Implementing and Evaluating ECMHC Services respectively. ECE staff members' personal cultural worldviews, life experiences, and training, combined with any prior involvement with mental health services or consultation, will influence their openness to collaborating with the mental health consultant.

Ultimately, staff readiness for consultation is dependent upon the personal relationship, rapport and respect they are able to build with the mental health consultant. Consultants must be sensitive to the organizational culture as well as the perspectives of staff to make a successful entry into an ECE program (Donahue et al, 2000).

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Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development National Center for Effective Mental Health Consultation