HB20-1006 (McCluskie & Sirota/Pettersen & Story) Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation
This bill would bolster the state-managed early childhood mental health consultation (ECMHC) program by establishing program infrastructure, quality metrics, and evaluation requirements. It would help ensure sustainable funding, define and enhance program structure and design, maintain and support a qualified ECMHC workforce, and ensure quality services in the state-managed ECMHC program.
The Children’s Campaign strongly supports this bill. ECMHC connects early childhood professionals, families, and young children with qualified professionals with expertise in early childhood development and mental health. ECMHC results in less classroom burnout for early childhood educators, a decrease in suspensions and expulsions in early learning settings, an increase in emotional regulation skills in young children, and an increase in early identification of mental health or developmental delays in young children.
Colorado has a state-managed ECMHC program that funds 34 early childhood mental health consultant positions using a combination of federal and state resources, but can only support a fraction of more than 400,000 children under the age of six in the state. In order to serve children in early care and education settings who are ages birth to eight years old, it is estimated that the state needs 438 early childhood mental health consultants (for a one consultant per about 15 classrooms ratio). This estimate does not include services for expecting families or for children who do not receive care through a licensed childcare program. In the future, and as the program grows, the goal is to expand the early childhood mental health consultant state program to better meet the needs in local communities, and this bill would establish the structure to support this expansion.
Passed out of the House Public Health Care & Human Services Committee along party lines and now heads to the House Appropriations Committee.