Sensitive topics often emerge in early childhood programs. The practice of screening in Head Start and Early Head Start programs is used to identify health and behavioral issues and concerns early. Additionally, young children may share a story from home that concerns staff or act out difficult situations during playtime. Beginning conversations with children and families around sensitive topics, such as substance use disorders and depression, is not an easy task. The resources on this page can help.
Developing Relationships Through Effective Communication
We often encounter difficult topics in our work with families. This workshop will give teachers an opportunity to share their challenges, explore strategies for supporting children, and look at ways to take care of themselves.
Partnering with parents is an essential part of working with children. Head Start and Early Head Start families may be facing multiple stressors in addition to the demands of caring for young children. This handout outlines specific strategies for successful communication with families.
Explore the role Positive Goal-Oriented Relationships play in effective parent, family, and community engagement (PFCE). This guide offers definitions, tools, and resources for reflective practice and supervision.
Motivational interviewing is an effective tool in promoting relationships and behavior change. Its principles and strategies may be used to enhance relationships and help staff feel more confident when addressing challenging issues. This webinar examines how to more effectively partner with parents through use of motivational interviewing strategies.
This resource will help Head Start staff learn more about screening tools available to identify substance use disorders. It includes important considerations for choosing a screening tool and guidance for conversations with families.
Learn about Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS), breastfeeding, supportive care, and medication.
This resource offers guidance to providers for screening pregnant woman. Find information and strategies around starting the conversation, screening tools, education, referrals, and medication assisted treatment (MAT).
Children who have been exposed to substances in utero may have certain chronic or episodic conditions or behaviors that impact their health. This resource helps teachers get a clear picture of what conditions can affect a child's assessment.
Consultation and Referral
Finding a Mental Health Provider for Children and Families in Your Early Head Start/Head Start Program
Head Start and Early Head Start programs are required to provide a broad spectrum of mental health services. This brief provides guidance to program staff in identifying mental health providers who best meet a family's needs, culture, and personality. It also offers ideas to overcome access barriers.
Staff can use these resources to work with families dealing with parental depression and related adversities, and with children in classrooms and in the home. Learn to engage and support parents struggling with adversities. These materials were developed by the Family Connections Project at Boston Children's Hospital.
Infant and early childhood mental health consultation (IECMHC) is an intervention that teams a mental health professional with early care and education staff and families. This team works to promote the social and emotional development of young children in their care. Explore these resources to learn how to support programs as they select consultants and enhance their IECMHC services.
National Centers:Health, Behavioral Health, and Safety
Last Updated: March 11, 2021