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Early Childhood Mental Health Toolkit

Integrating Mental Health Services into the Pediatric Medical Home

A small change at the pediatrician’s office can make a large difference for all U.S. children. Integrating early childhood mental health staff, services, and systems into pediatric practices, also known as medical homes, transforms primary care visits into holistic visits that care for the physical and mental health of a young child.


In 2009, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and the Boston Public Health Commission received funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to create a model of early childhood mental health programs to be modeled in pediatric medical home.


The model is based on a partnership between a family partner and mental health clinician dedicated to early childhood mental health. Acknowledging that many practices may not have the capacity to employ these positions in the current healthcare payment environment, BPHC has created a toolkit that can provide guidance for providers. The Toolkit is a comprehensive collection of tools and guidance for integrating early childhood mental health staff, including a family partner, into the pediatric primary care setting, including:

  1. Building a Core Team to Champion Children’s Social and Emotional HealthFind tools to identify, hire, and train/support early childhood mental health staff.  Guidance on assessing resources, identifying areas of need, and beginning to plan a service delivery model is also outlined here.
  2. Providing Family Centered Care for Children’s Social and Emotional Health: Find tools to design a full spectrum of early childhood mental health services, including sample referral criteria, care plan templates, and group activities.  Tools for promotion, prevention, and intervention focused services are supplied.
  3. Creating Medical Home Systems to Support Mental Health IntegrationFind tools to develop and refine systems across the medical home to assure successful service integration, including communication systems, medical record use, home and community based services, and addressing adult mental health needs in the pediatric setting.
  4. Financing and Sustaining the Early Childhood Mental Health Model of Integrated Care: Find tools to guide evaluation and sustainability efforts, including  sustainability strategies for each practice

The Early Childhood Mental Health Partnership continues to work toward a reality that allows all children and families – particularly the most vulnerable – to have equitable access to high quality early childhood mental health enhanced medical homes.

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