National Center for Effective Mental Halth Consultation

This tutorial was adapted by Bruno J. Anthony and Mary Mackrain for the Center for Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation, an Innovation and Improvement Project funded by the Office of Head Start. Original content was developed by Bruno J. Anthony in collaboration with, Karen Gavin-Evans, Cynthia Baker, Jennifer Mettrick, and Lisa Dixon. Additional support was provided through an advisory panel including the following members: Eric Bruns, Ann Geddes, Kimberly Hoagwood, Shiela Pires, and Stephen Wessler.

About this Tutorial

Family involvement is critical to quality early childhood mental health consultation. Involving families increases the likelihood that family members will feel valued and help implement strategies at home and thus reinforces the impact of consultation (Center for Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation, n.d.). Early childhood mental health consultants can use information from this tutorial to strengthen their understanding of how to facilitate strong partnerships with families within the consultation approach and overcome common barriers, building a framework within which the quality work begins and develops.

As Johnston and Brinamen (2006) state, the consultant “honors the parent-child relationship as the place where knowledge is held and change will occur” (p. 285). Consultants can also use this information to coach caregivers in their work with families.

Purpose and Overall Goal
The purpose of this tutorial is to provide early childhood mental health consultants with an understanding of what is meant by partnering with families within a consultative approach as well as key practices that support the building and maintenance of strong, relationship-based partnerships. Consultants can use information from this tutorial to strengthen their own relationships with families and to coach infant, toddler and young children's caregivers to strengthen their bonds with families. Head Start is referred to throughout this tutorial, which includes Head Start, Early Head Start as well as Seasonal and Migrant Head Start, but the concepts shared can also readily be applied to any early childhood mental health consultation approach.

Learning Objectives
After completing this tutorial, you will be able to:

  • Define family partnerships
  • Describe the role families play in early childhood mental health consultation services
  • Describe family involvement in early childhood mental health services as outlined in the Head Start Performance Standards
  • Identify key elements and practices that support the building and maintenance of family partnerships within an ECMHC approach

Getting Started

Time Commitment
This tutorial consists of two modules and is designed to take one and a half hours to complete. Module one is designed to take about 30 minutes to complete, and Module two, 1 hour to complete. Timing may vary from person to person. You can complete the training in one sitting, but if this is not possible, you can easily pick up where you left off at a later time.

Materials Needed
Other than a computer, you will not need any materials to complete this training. You may want to keep a pen/pencil and paper handy to take notes, or to have ready access to a printer to print items that are of particular interest to you.

Throughout this tutorial there may be words or terminology that may be new to you.  Please check our glossary by clicking on the direct link at the top of the page or in the left margin.  The glossary will open in a new window.

Special Note
Throughout this tutorial, the term “parent” is used to refer to any adult who is the primary caregiver for a child and provides ongoing support for the young child in his or her home environment. “Parent” may refer to biological/adoptive parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, foster parents, or any other steady presence in the child’s life within the child's home(s). The term "family" includes parents as defined above as well as others who are a consistent presence in the child's life such as siblings. The term "caregiver" is used to refer to any adult that provides ongoing care for a child outside of the child's home such as a teacher, child care provider or day care aide or support to families within the home setting such as a home visitor. The term "young children" refers to infants, toddlers and preschoolers ages birth up to five years.

If you have any questions or technical difficulties with this tutorial, please email us. Thank you and we hope you enjoy the training.



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