A Focus on Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health

July 2021
This newsletter focuses on sharing information on infant/early childhood mental health and
the importance of relationship-based approaches and supports that help infants and young children feel safe, supported, and valued by the adults around them. The newsletter, and the Infant Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (IECMHC) program, is made possible by a partnership between the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) and the Pennsylvania Key.
Summer fun is here! With the warmer weather comes sun and water, as well as the need to protect children and ourselves from the elements.

Children need to wear sunscreen and possibly hats and sunglasses to keep them from getting burned while getting that much needed outside time. While we know how important it is to protect skin from the sun, we may care for children who are not happy about having sunscreen put on them. Likewise, wearing a hat or sunglasses may be uncomfortable for some.

Many programs also engage children in water play over the summer months. For some, water play is a fun way to keep cool during the hot weather. Others, however, may prefer to avoid the sensation of water on their skin. While keeping children healthy and safe is a priority be sure to also keep in mind those children who may approach sensory experiences differently.

In this edition of the IECMH newsletter, we hope to provide information on how to keep all children and their needs in mind this summer.
Relationships Are the Heart of Early Childhood Education: Critical Competencies Intentional Teaching Series

This series is delivered over four weeks, supporting infant-toddler educators and supervisors in multiple early childhood education programs. The Critical Competencies define the responsive teacher-child interactions that support babies and toddlers, as well as their parents and caregivers in healing the trauma experienced in COVID. Click here for more information.

Using Ages and Stages Questionnaires as a Screening Tool: Wednesday, July 21, 2021, 9:00 am - 12:30pm

Participants will learn how to use the ASQ® and ASQ:SE® as a screening tool for children ages three months to five years. The session provides information on how to administer and score the screener and share results of the screener with families. Including resources for making referrals to additional services if needed. Click here for more information.
Mental Health Benefits of Outdoor Play (Bright Start. Bright Kids. Bright Future.): Being outdoors exposes children to sunshine and exercise while giving them opportunities to practice important life skills. Click here for more information.

Fresh Air, Fun and Exploration: Why Outdoor Play is Essential for Healthy Development (NAEYC): “Playing outdoors has benefits for children and educators. It’s a refreshing pause in the day’s schedule – time set aside to look and listen, explore and observe, move and let loose.” Click here for more information.
Summer and Sensory Processing Issues (Child Mind): How to help kids stay comfortable in what can be overstimulating outdoor activities. Click here for more information.

Outdoor Sensory Activities Video (4:44 min) (Child Care Resources): Outdoor and sensory play are essential parts of childhood development. It allows children to explore and learn about their environment, increase brain function, develop motor skills and improve emotional regulation. Watch the video.
Gross Motor Games that build Protective Factors: Initiative, Self-control and Attachment (Devereux Early Childhood Initiative, Devereux Foundation): Toddler and Preschool games for outdoor summer fun or indoors when it’s just too hot! Read more.

Books for Hot Days (ZERO TO THREE): Grab a book and read along! Books and activities for babies and toddlers. Read more.

Summer Strategies for Infants, Toddlers and Preschoolers, Resilience Weekly Video Series (Devereux Center for Resilient Children): Watch the series on YouTube.

Summer Safety Tips for Early Care and Education Programs (National Center on Early Childhood Health and Wellness): “The summer months offer many opportunities for exploration and play in outdoor learning environments. With proper planning, early care and education staff can ensure that children are able to take advantage of these experiences and enjoy the summer months safely.” Read more.
The Pennsylvania Key has streamlined the process for Keystone STARS programs to request Infant Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (IECMHC). Child care providers can request services by using the Request for Service Form (PDF). Completed forms can be submitted via email PAIECMH@pakeys.org or faxed to 717-213-3749.
Programs and families can contact the program leadership directly at PAIECMH@pakeys.org with questions or concerns.
Share your feedback! We'd like to hear what you think about infant early childhood mental health. Are there resources you'd like to see? Questions you have? Tell us! Send your feedback to PAIECMH@pakeys.org.