It is our belief that every child should have opportunities from the start to reach their full potential within healthy positive relationships and to this end, the Office of Infant and Early Childhood Special Programs (OIECSP), works to promote positive early experiences through collaborative partnerships, empowering families, and building capacity across communities.
This is accomplished through two service areas within OIECSP:
Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Services
Do babies, toddlers and preschoolers have mental health needs? YES! As early as conception our emotional and mental well-being is impacted by our environments, relationships, and experiences. Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health (IECMH) is “the developing capacity of the child from birth to 5 years old to form close and secure adult and peer relationships; experience, manage and express a full range of emotions; and explore the environment and learn- all in the context of family, community, and culture” (ZERO to THREE, 2017). Because of this, the field of infant and early childhood mental health is inclusive of not only the children in this age range but also the adults who care for them.
With strong collaborative partnerships, including the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education (DECE), the Alabama Partnership for Children (APC), the University of Alabama, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and others, ADMH OIECSP has begun to build a fast-growing Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health System of Care including prevention, promotion, and intervention. Referrals for treatment, or another direct service, are also provided when necessary and appropriate.
In 2020, the OIECSP created new positions to provide Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (IECMHC) throughout Alabama. IECMHC is a prevention-based service that pairs a mental health consultant with families and adults who work with infants and young children in the different settings where they learn and grow, such as childcare, preschool, and their home. The aim is to build adults’ capacity to strengthen and support the healthy social and emotional development of children―early and before intervention is needed.
These Consultants have begun or will soon begin working with:
- First Class PreK - Alabama’s public 4-year-old Kindergarten program
- Part C Early Intervention- initially through a small pilot of three programs, but eventually all EI programs will have access to IECMH Consultation.
- Substance Abuse Treatment programs – in partnership with the ADMH Substance Treatment program in the MH/SA Division, OIECSP will soon pilot IECMHC within one outpatient Substance Use Disorder treatments centers that serve pregnant women and mothers with young children
This office is also working with partner agencies to increase workforce capacity within the direct mental health services field. These efforts are happening both at the university level and in-service level, to improve access to and quality of mental health services for children birth-5 and their families to prevent or lessen more serious mental health concerns from developing when children are older.
For more information specifically about ADMH Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health services, contact Jane Duer, Director, Office of Infant and Early Childhood Special Programs at 205-478-4756 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Early Intervention Services
As part of the Alabama Early Intervention System (AEIS) through Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), ADMH EI Services is committed to providing quality services for eligible children ages birth-to-3 years and their families.
AEIS provides evaluation and assessment to determine if the child meets the state’s eligibility definition (25 % delay in one or more areas of development or a medical diagnosis which has a likelihood of resulting in developmental delay).
Every EI-eligible child receives Service Coordination and one or more of the other 17 authorized Part C services. The most common types of services delivered are occupational and physical therapy, speech-language therapy, and special instruction. These services are delivered following the 7 Core Values of the AEIS, which mean they are:
- Developmentally Appropriate
- Provided in the Child’s Natural Environment
- Focus on Training and Equipping the Parent/Caregiver
- Collaborative, and
EI Services focus on training, equipping, and supporting parents/caregivers in being the first and best teachers for their child rather than providing clinical hands-on therapeutic services. From the very beginning, families are involved in shaping the goals and outcomes of their child’s intervention so they are functional and help the family’s daily and weekly routines go smoother and, most importantly, allow the child to reach his/her full potential in a meaningful way for the family.
If you have a concern about your infant or toddler’s development, call Alabama’s EI Child Find at 1-800-543-3098 (English) or 1-866-450-2838 (Spanish).
For questions or information specifically related to the 23 EI programs contracted through ADMH, call the ADMH EI Coordinator, Debra Florea at 334-676-5594, or email her at email@example.com
Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education
Alabama’s Early Intervention System -Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services
Alabama Family Central
Alabama Partnership for Children
Center for Parent Information and Resources
First 5 Alabama
Help Me Grow Alabama
Parenting Assistance Line
SAMHSA’s Center for Excellence in Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation
University of Alabama Child Development Resource Center
ZERO TO THREE