National Center for Effective Mental Halth Consultation

Linking Families to Resources

Some young children and their families who experience acute trauma need assistance with post-traumatic stress symptoms. Others, with more chronic or complex trauma experiences, have poor attachment histories, and show associated developmental, relationship, and behavioral problems. Early Head Start and Head Start staff and early childhood mental health consultants are in a unique position to recognize when children are in need of special help and when their ongoing behavior warrants a referral for more intense services provided within the program or in the community. It is not uncommon for parents and family members to also have experienced trauma in their own early years, suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, and need their own therapeutic support in addition to intervention to repair the parent-child relationship.

Collaboration with community partners

Community PartnersWhen consultation and intervention strategies implemented by Early Head Start and Head Start teachers and staff are not enough to address the impact of trauma on young children and their families, community partners and other resources may be necessary. A clear and timely decision making process and steps to link families to these resources should be in place. Developing and nurturing these community partnerships can help to build and maintain collaborative relationships and facilitate working together.

Community partners for supporting children and families affected by trauma may include:

  • Community mental health services (with infant, early childhood, and family trauma expertise)
  • Child protective and child welfare services
  • Department of social services
  • Domestic violence services
  • Shelter services
  • Early intervention services
  • Agencies that specialize in trauma and specific types of trauma

Every Early Head Start and Head Start program should be familiar with all community partners and resources as well as have a list or directory available to support collaboration and assist in connecting families to community resources. (See Head Start Program Performance Standards 45 CFR 1304.41, Community Partnerships). In working with community resources, consultants should collaborate with other Early Head Start and Head Start staff (Teacher, Home Visitor, Family Advocate, Disabilities Coordinator, etc.) to make the most of already established working relationships with community partners as well as those trusted relationships with families and caregivers. Early Head Start and Head Start mental health consultants can also assist in building strong partnerships with community agencies and other resources that specialize in addressing the impact of trauma.




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