We Can Support Mental Health Now

June 2020

The things we experience daily can have major effects on our behavior and mental health. Consider how you feel when someone cuts you off in traffic or is rude to you for no reason; these experiences can have a direct impact on your emotions at that moment, but if these experiences and emotions compound, they can have lasting effects on your mental health. While most adults are better equipped to recognize and make changes to alleviate some of that stress, children are much less capable of recognizing how these experiences can affect them and then make changes.

Adverse experiences are not only concerned with how interactions affect our emotions but also include food insecurity, poverty, homelessness, abuse, and neglect. Research from The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard has shown that the toxic stress experienced early in a child’s life can have a cumulative effect on an adult’s physical and mental health and that the emotional well-being of young children is tied directly to the functioning of their caregivers and the environment. In short, the more negative experiences during childhood, the more likely developmental delays, and other problems may have a negative impact in adulthood.

The Center for Disease Prevention and Control reports that, on average, 15% of children, two to eight years old, in the United States have a parent-reported mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder. As educators, we are on the front line of working with these children and their families. We witness children in these situations on a daily basis and have the duty to ensure that we are doing everything we can to intervene and help mitigate these negative effects.

One way that the state of Colorado is hoping to support these vulnerable members of our society is through the creation of legislation that would provide support not only for young children who experience mental health impairment but also for early childhood and mental health professionals to develop the necessary skills to support these young children and their families. Currently, part four of Colorado House Bill 1053 outlines plans to increase the number of qualified mental health consultants to support young children and their families. In addition, this bill will also provide early childhood educators serving this community with the support they need to create the high-quality learning environments these young children deserve.

This blog post is a call to action to support programs and initiatives, like HB20-1053, that improve the lives of families by strengthening financial support programs and family-friendly work policies, and by providing greater access to early intervention programs. We need to create statewide initiatives that foster safe and supportive learning environments for all children and their families by providing access to high-quality early childhood programs for everyone. We also need to work together to build caring relationships by strengthening social and emotional education programs and creating caring communities to support children and families in need.

Guest Blogger
Meagan Stroud
Master Early Childhood Candidate
Superior, Colorado

COVID-19’s Early Impacts

March 2020

Ten days ago none of us were expecting the impact that the coronavirus COVID-19 would have on our local child care community.  The rate of change has been intense and bewildering.  A decision we might think is a good one in the morning, changes by the afternoon as new information rises.

I have noticed one area of my work that is transforming in a different way.  Collaborations with Boulder County Public Health and Boulder County Housing and Human Services are, well, sort of blossoming.  There is much to do on behalf of our local early childhood community – parents in mission critical fields such as hospital staff, police and fire, and mental health agencies need reliable high quality child care so they can continue serving us.  At the same time, child care providers need assistance mitigating risk and interpreting guidance for making unprecedented business decisions about closures. Human services alliances across Boulder County are really connecting to make the best decisions to serve and support our community, more so right now than ever.  And these two teams at BCPH and BCDHHS feel like real friends of the council at this time.

The situation is sobering for child care.  The COVID-19 crisis is brutally laying bare certain gaps in the early childhood system.  Namely, the struggle we are having connecting licensed child care providers that remain open with families that need them.  Secondly, fears regarding the retention of a local child care workforce are real.  For connection, there are two places parents and providers can email: childcarereferrals@unitedwaydenver.org and go to covidchildcarecolorado.com.  For retention of the early childhood workforce, community partners are figuring out employment and income supports in the short term.  In the longer term, we may be looking at new landscape with fewer licensed child care options. Regardless, the approximate 14,000 young children 0 – 5 years old will still be here in Boulder County and their parents will still be securing some mix of child care in all types of arrangements.  As COVID-19 evolves and passes (this too shall pass) we’ll have a clearer view of early care and education sector’s role in the well-being and development of our community.  Stay tuned with the council, we’ll be working on these issues with our friends.  We welcome you to join us. www.eccbouldercounty.org

Danielle Butler
Executive Director

Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers Count

March 13, 2020

Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers Count

But, young children under 5 years old are the age group most likely to be missed by the census.

Making sure every young child counts in the census is one of the most important things we can do right now for our young children and their families in Boulder County. And right now, it is even more important to support family’s efforts to fill out the Census online or by phone rather than have Census workers go to residences. Please print this poster and put where families can see.

When babies aren’t counted in the census, it hurts our communities and reduces funding for important programs that help our young children and their families. Colorado’s 2020 Census data will be used to allocate billions of dollars in federal funding for programs like child care assistance, Head Start, foster care and WIC. In one year alone, Colorado received $2 billion in federal funding for children’s programs based on our census population counts. If young children aren’t counted in 2020, our communities won’t receive their fair share of this funding for the next decade.

Families can respond to the 2020 Census right now. You can help by sharing the following:

As of this writing and according to the real time response rate map, Boulder County has a 29% self-response rate and the US and the state of Colorado have a response rates of 24%.

Let’s keep going!  The 2020 Census is now!

Rick Winter
ECCBC Systems Program Associate