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Promote Children's Social, Emotional, Behavioral Health

Strategies Success Stories

What Can Policymakers Do?

  • Promote early childhood social and emotional development. Developing a common vision and a comprehensive approach to addressing children’s social, emotional and behavioral health needs is an integral part of child and adolescent health and health care.  Policymakers can promote policies that call for a comprehensive state plan, interagency strategies and coordinated investment to support early social and emotional development.  By integrating social and emotional development into existing programs and services, policymakers support efforts to comprehensively address the mental health needs of children and their families.  The promotion of early childhood social and emotional development is the first step in prevention and early intervention.
  • Prevent social, emotional and behavioral health disorders. Early identification of developmental and mental health issues in young children is essential for preventing more serious social, emotional and behavioral health disorders.  Policymakers can promote the creation of statewide standards and strategies for identifying—in medical, childcare, school and community settings—the developmental needs of young children and developing appropriate interventions. Early childhood screening, with proven tools, is a critical investment, particularly for Medicaid programs as part of EPSDT. Linkages among providers help to assure that children’s risks are addressed and conditions treated before they worsen. In addition, policymakers can support the identification and treatment of parental mental health needs and thereby the healthy development of their children.
  • Connect the specialized needs of children with appropriate services. Children who have social, emotional and behavioral health needs should receive the best services and supports possible.  By expanding staff training and professional development opportunities, state policymakers can aid in the creation of a well-trained workforce able to meet children’s mental health needs.  By assuring that Medicaid financing is available for treating risks and more serious conditions, states can maximize their investments. Through better integration and coordination of public dollars resources, policymakers can help ensure that families are able to obtain and afford the comprehensive care that they need.  For children who have experienced trauma, and are therefore at increased vulnerability for mental health disorders, states can use proven practices to provide these children with the specialized supports that they need.