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Enhancing Early Childhood Mental Health Primary Care Services: Evaluation of MA Project LAUNCH


Beth E. Molnar, Kristin E. Lees, Kate Roper, Natasha Byars, Larisa Méndez-Peñate, Christy Moulin, William McMullen, Jessica Wolfe & Deborah Allen

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of an innovative early childhood mental health intervention, Massachusetts Project LAUNCH. Early childhood mental health clinicians and family partners (paraprofessionals with lived experience) were embedded within community pediatric medical homes. 


A longitudinal study design was used to test the hypotheses that (1) children who received services would experience decreased social, emotional and behavioral problems over time and (2) caregivers’ stress and depressive symptoms would decrease over time. Families who were enrolled in services and who consented to participate in the evaluation study were included in analyses (N = 225). Individual growth models were used to test longitudinal effects among MA LAUNCH participants (children and caregivers) over three time points using screening tools.


Analyses showed that LAUNCH children who scored in age-specific clinically significant ranges of social, emotional and behavioral problems at Time 1 scored in the normal range on average by Time 3. Caregivers’ stress and depressive symptoms also declined across the three time points. Results support hypotheses that the LAUNCH intervention improved social and emotional health for children and caregivers. Conclusions for Practice This study led to sustainability efforts, an expansion of the model to three additional communities across the state and development of an online toolkit for other communities interested in implementation.

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