Community Partnerships

Parent talking to service workerHead Start and Early Head Start programs may not be able to offer the intensive mental health or related services needed by a family. Partnerships with a variety of community agencies help programs provide the support families and staff need. Some of these community agencies are described here.

Community mental health clinics. Community clinics often serve the same economic groups as Head Start and Early Head Start programs. Some offer special consultation programs to child care staff, but most offer counseling services to adults, couples, or families.

Respite programs. Sometimes parents of young children with behavioral challenges need a break. Respite programs are offered through a department of social services or various mental health associations. They may arrange funding for regularly scheduled care to be provided by a familiar, comfortable, and well-trained caregiver who can share in the care of the child while the parents have a few hours to relax or run errands.

Early intervention programs. Some states and territories include mental health issues in their eligibility for Part C services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Direct services may be available for children who have been assessed as having problems with social and emotional development. Eligible preschool children may also receive special education and related services in the least restrictive environment under Part B of IDEA.