ECMHMatters Podcast – Episode 1

Malika speaks with Dr. Debbie Allen about her experience being a part of the founding team of the the Project LAUNCH/MYCHILD and System of Care grants held by the Partnership for Early Childhood Mental Health. This is where it all started.

Episode Resources

Early Childhood Mental Health – "Infant mental health" refers to how well a child develops socially and emotionally from birth to three. Understanding infant mental health is the key to preventing and treating the mental health problems of very young children and their families. It also helps guide the development of healthy social and emotional behaviors. Learn more about infant mental health and how important trusted relationships are for infants and children. (zero to three)
Infant and early childhood mental health consultation - Infant and early childhood mental health consultation (IECMHC) is an intervention that teams a mental health professional with early care and education staff and families. This team works on ways to help promote the social and emotional development of the young children in their care.
Universal Screening – Use of screening tools to identify children who benefit from intervention for developmental delays or behavioral issues before they reach kindergarten.
Thrive in Five - Thrive in 5’s mission is to ensure that children of all races, ethnicities, incomes, abilities, and languages have the opportunities and support they need for success in school and beyond. As a public-private partnership between the City of Boston and United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley.
Cognitive Impairment -  is when a person has trouble remembering, learning new things, concentrating, or making decisions that affect their everyday life.
Significant health care needs - Special health care needs include any physical, developmental, mental, sensory, behavioral, cognitive, or emotional impair- ment or limiting condition that requires medical management, health care intervention, and/or use of specialized services or programs.
Rosie D Lawsuit - Rosie D. is the lead named plaintiff in a class action lawsuit that sought to compel the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to provide intensive home-based mental health services to children with serious emotional disturbance (SED). The plaintiffs challenged the State’s failure to provide medically necessary services as required under the federal Medicaid Act, and its failure to inform parents and children that they are entitled to these covered services. To find out more go to
American Academy of Pediatrics – The American Academy of Pediatrics is an American professional association of pediatricians, headquartered in Itasca, Illinois. It maintains its Department of Federal Affairs office in Washington, D.C.
Congress established the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in 1992 to make substance use and mental disorder information, services, and research more accessible. Visit "Who We Are" to learn more.
CAFH Bureau – Child and Family Health Bureau at the Boston Public Health Commission
Maternal and Child Health Bureau – Maternal and Child Health Bureau at the Department of Public Health.
ECMH FIRST grant - The intent of the ECMH FIRST grant is to support families involved in the child welfare system to identify and access culturally and clinically appropriate services/supports to optimize young children’s mental health. The Team is made up of a Family Partner, Clinician, and Coordinator. The service delivery model is focused on being Racially Just and Equitable, Trauma Informed, IECMH Informed, Family Centered and Integrated with Child Welfare.  The Adaptation – from Primary Care to Child Welfare Integration. The Referral Path – DCF staff identify families and connect with the Team by (virtual) warm hand-offs
Project LAUNCH - The Project LAUNCH Expansion grant opportunity closely aligns with SAMHSA's Strategic Initiatives on Prevention of Substance Abuse and Mental Illness and Trauma and Justice.  This grant program aims to focus resources on communities, families and children who are at high risk for experiencing trauma, or who have already experienced trauma, with a goal of promoting wellness, preventing mental, emotional and behavioral disorders, and supporting early detection and referral to treatment for children and family members experiencing behavioral health issues, including substance abuse.
The Project LAUNCH Expansion grant program also seeks to address behavioral health disparities among racial and ethnic minorities by encouraging the implementation of strategies to decrease the differences in access, service use, and outcomes among the racial and ethnic minority populations served.
System of Care grant – This grant supports the provision of mental health and related recovery support services to children and youth with SED and those with early signs and symptoms of serious mental illness (SMI), including first episode psychosis (FEP). 


Dr. Debbie Allen, ScD

Deputy Director of Health Promotion
Los Angeles County Department of Public Health

Dr. Allen is a longtime advocate for children with special healthcare needs and was a driving force behind efforts to increase the availability of high-quality services for children with behavioral health needs.

She formed an Early Childhood Mental Health Team  at the Boston Public Health Commission to ensure that Boston families have access to children’s mental health services; she partnered with Boston Public Schools to provide outreach and support to children who experience frequent absences due to the child, sibling or parents’ mental or physical health problems; and she secured federal funding to support a system of early intervention mental health care for Boston children.

Deborah also advocated for changes to state insurance mandates to ensure that children with autism could gain access to diagnosis and treatment services without having to pay out-of-pocket expenses.

Dr. Allen was recognized for her work from the Association for Behavioral Healthcare. She received the Carl B. Cutchins Award for Children’s Behavioral Health, which goes to “someone who has demonstrated a long-term commitment to supporting and enhancing services for troubled children/adolescents at the state or local level.”


Malika Arty

System of Care Program Manager
Early Childhood Mental Health Department
Boston Public Health Commission

Malika Arty was born in Cambridge, Ma and spent her early years in Amherst, Ma. While living in Amherst gave her a great foundation of arts, culture and education; moving back to Cambridge in her teens helped her identify with her West Indian lineage. These and many other life experiences fostered her strong work ethic and passion for community activism. As a young mother of 3 children, Malika sought out roles that would offer her the flexibility to be with her children.

Malika’s resume includes work as a Home based coach for Early Childhood Literacy, Youth Mentor, High school Cheerleading Coach, Sr. Family Partner, Coordinator of Family Driven Practice for the Department of Mental Health and now the Early Childhood Program Manager at the Boston Public Health Commission. Malika realized early on that her life’s work would be in service to youth and families in her community. Malika is a certified Wraparound Trainer and Wraparound Process Mentor and has found her passion where her lived experience and professional training meet to promote family driven practice throughout child and family serving systems.

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