Mental Health Professionals

Instructors and kids playing with blocksHead Start and Early Head Start programs are required to use the services of mental health professionals. Whether a staff member or a consultant, the mental health professional enables the timely and effective identification of and intervention in family and staff concerns about a child's mental health (45 CFR §1302.45(b) and 45 CFR §1302.91(8)(ii)). They can offer a variety of services to enhance awareness and understanding of mental wellness, including:

  • Providing information and training to parents and staff
  • Supporting practices that promote mental health, such as:
    • Responsive care
    • Nurturing relationships
    • Using an emotional vocabulary to name children's feelings and help children name their own feelings
    • Maintaining predictable routines

The mental health professional conducts on-site consultations that may include observing the child within the program. Perhaps most beneficial, they help the program develop and carry out protocols for problem-solving when a child's behavior is particularly confusing or disruptive.