A Focus on Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health

September 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.
Welcome to the September issue of the IECMHC newsletter! As promised, we are taking a deeper dive into the Pyramid Model. This month, we are focusing on the foundational tier, effective workforce  

As we embark on the upcoming school year, we may excitedly anticipate the children and families we will be serving. However, it’s important we recognize, develop and retain staff that enhance and further the vision of our programs. By investing in your staff, you are creating a culture of inclusion, community and opportunities for growth. This is exactly the type of environment you expect your staff to create for the children and families in your care! 

In this issue, we will provide resources and strategies to build an effective workforce.  An effective workforce includes staff that are trained, engaged in shared decision making and have positive relationships with colleagues and families.  As you support your staff, remember the parallel process: treat adults how you would like them to treat children. The opportunities to show others appreciation and gratitude are endless!  
Resilient Leadership: Building STAFF Bounce: In this recorded webinar, leaders will have an opportunity to reflect on what it means to be a resilient leader and how to build the bounce (resilience) of staff. (55:14) [Webinar] Resilient Leadership: Building STAFF Bounce - YouTube

Effective Leadership understands and promotes the health and well-being of all adults who nurture and work with young children. It is through positive relationships in the workplace, staff feeling valued and understood in a supportive environment that an effective workforce is born. This tool, in the form of a checklist, can provide great insight for leaders around areas of strength and growth for their staff. Devereux Resilient Leadership Survey (DERLS)
Praise and recognition are crucial components of well-rounded work cultures and environments.

Journaling: A written record of thoughts and feelings that increases confidence and self-awareness, reduces stress and anxiety and benefits one’s mental health. 
 “Completing the gratitude journal is such a great way to pause and get my perspective in the right place. It doesn't take away the stress that I'm facing...but it reminds me that not everything is awful and uncertain. I have PLENTY to be thankful for, and I'm so glad Colleen and Kelli have been encouraging us to do this daily. It's a tool...and it works when I use it!”

Mindfulness: The practice of purposely being fully present and acknowledging one’s thoughts, feelings, body and surrounding environment.
“Mindfulness has helped me grow in many aspects of my life, helping me overcome anxieties, and negative self-talk that hindered not only my personal maturity but professional as well. Adopting mindfulness allows me the opportunity to handle stressors in a way that is gentle and makes me aware of my thoughts throughout uncomfortable experiences. The outcome is renewed energy and a breath of fresh air for students and families who lack proper coping strategies for resilience.”
Professional Development Organizations (PDOs) in Pennsylvania are focused on ensuring the early childhood education (ECE) workforce is well equipped to support the growth development of today’s youngest children and their families by offering access to a unified professional development (PD) system. Read more.

The Pennsylvania PD Registry is a technology system that functions as a workforce registry. It allows providers to browse, find specific trainings and register for trainings. The Registry tracks an individual’s professional achievements. Read more.

Inspirational and Educational Video Series from Devereux Center for Resilient Children.

Supporting an Effective Workforce with Professional Development: Websites for online training opportunities for those who care for children.
These books can help in creating connections in communities and managing stress.

The Visionary Director: A Handbook for Dreaming, Organizing, and Improvising in Your Center by Margie Carter is about running a relationship-based early learning center. It is for directors to help teach them to support staff, families, and create an inclusive, accepting community. It encourages the creation of a vision that everyone is a part of and can believe in.
Keeping Your Smile: Caring for Children with Joy, Love, and Intention by Jeff A. Johnson, is a resource for anyone who cares for children and who wants to manage their own stress, tension, or anxiety before burnout becomes an overarching obstacle in their daily interactions with children. Jeff A. Johnson, a child care professional who wrote about his own burnout in Finding Your Smile Again, offers strategies, activities, tips, and tools help caregivers and educators work with children with passion and maintain a satisfying career in the field.
Building your Bounce: Simple Strategies for a Resilient You. Research confirms the critical connection between the health and well-being of children and the adults caring for them. Because of this important link, it is essential that adults take care of themselves so that they are able to provide high-quality care to the children in their lives. This journal is designed to meet adults where they are and take them to a place of greater strength and determination.
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.