National Center for Effective Mental Halth Consultation
   

Step Two: Build a Strong Planning Team

Step 2You will need to identify a team to participate in planning. Ideally the team should include:

  1. Yourself as the program director;
  2. The manager/director who is responsible for assuring that performance standards related to mental health are addressed by your program (e.g. mental health/disabilities manager);
  3. Representatives from your teaching staff;
  4. Representatives from other direct service staff who are interested in working on mental health planning (this could include family advocates, home visitors, bus drivers, kitchen staff, etc—remember, mental health is everybody's job!);
  5. Parent representatives from your Policy Council or other interested parents.
  6. A community member from your mental health advisory board.
  7. OPTIONAL: It is important to have someone on your team with a good understanding of early childhood mental health consultation. This may be your current mental health consultant, or you may need to find someone from the community who can bring this expertise to the table for planning. You may also want to consider having a few planning meetings before bringing in the consultant, in order to create a safe environment in which to honestly assess the current consultation model.

An effective planning team usually includes no more than about 8 individuals. Someone who has strong facilitation skills and (ideally) who has done strategic planning before should agree to act as the team facilitator.

If you include family members in the strategic planning process, they may need extra support in being active participants. For many parents, it is difficult to share their ideas in a group of professionals. For more information on including family members, please review "Involving Family in Policy Group Work," a tip sheet from the National Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health (2001)

Also, see the Head Start National Center on Parent, Family, and Community Engagement

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