TAMPA, Fla. (October 16, 2014) —County Commissioner Sandy Murman took the podium Wednesday at the Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners meeting to proclaim that Oct. 15 hereby be recognized as Infant Mental Health Day. This proclamation, and commendation of the Early Childhood Council of Hillsborough County (ECC), comes on the heels of a $238,715 grant awarded to the ECC by the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County to fund a dedicated large-scale Infant Mental Health Training Program.
The only other county in the state with a similar program is Palm Beach County.
The ECC will execute the Infant Mental Health Program in partnership with 12 other community organizations. The grant will fund strategic planning and training for up to 1,000 Hillsborough County parents, caregivers, educators, medical professionals, child welfare managers and law enforcement on the topic of infant mental health, which addresses all aspects of development for children from birth to age 3.
Research shows that social emotional development in children is just as important to school readiness as are literacy and cognitive development. Research also shows there are economic benefits to investing in early childhood programs, such as improved health and education outcomes and reduced crime and poverty.
“Infant Mental Health is about promoting healthy social and emotional development in young children,” said ECC Executive Director Stephen Martaus. “We are fortunate the Children’s Board is continuing to invest funding to make young children a priority in Hillsborough County.”
Training workshops will cover topics such as how trauma like abuse and neglect can impact development in young children. In addition, attendees will learn how to ensure early identification of potential mental health challenges so the proper interventions can be arranged for the best outcomes.
“We recognize that educating members of our community on infant mental health is a growing need in Hillsborough County communities where there is a lack of expertise or specialized services,” said Director of Programs for The Children’s Board of Hillsborough County, María Negrón. “The Children’s Board is a proud contributor of funds to support an infant mental health system of care for young children in our community.”
In addition to the Infant Mental Health Planning and Training Program, the ECC provides information/referral services, prevention and early intervention, inclusion support services as well as training and advocacy to the community. A key program is the Community Developmental Screening Program, held monthly to screen children under the age of 5 for developmental issues, such as speech and language, vision, hearing, motor skills and cognition problems or delays.
About the Early Childhood Council of Hillsborough County, Inc.
Established in 1983, the ECC is one of the leading early childhood organizations in the Tampa Bay area providing information/referral services, prevention and early intervention as well as training and advocacy to the community. With its long tradition of innovation and strategic planning, the ECC develops programs to meet gaps within early childhood services. For more information, please visit www.ecctampabay.org.