Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health
“Infant mental health” refers to how well a child develops socially and emotionally from birth to age three.
Crossroads is Ottawa’s leader in infant and early mental health. We know that prenatal, infant, and early childhood experiences shape the architecture of the brain and lay the foundation for positive mental health across the lifespan. We also know that outcomes improve when problems are identified and treated early on.
Crossroads Children’s Mental Health Centre provides a range of services for infants and children from birth to 6 years old. Child and youth workers, early childhood educators, and child and family therapists provide assessment and treatment to address disruptions in social emotional development. In doing so, children are better able to experience, manage and express emotions, develop healthy and satisfying relationships, actively explore their environment, and learn. Infant and early childhood mental health programs focus on the attachment between the child and their parents/caregivers and include:
- Walk-in services
- In-home treatment
- Child and family therapy
- Circle of Security parent skill training groups
KINDERGARTEN PROJECT: Full day Kindergarten has been in place for several years, and there has been a number of behavioral challenges. This phenomenon has been reported in school boards across the province. Challenges include: managing transitions, self regulation skills and resiliency. These challenges can affect the child’s well-being and and could have an impact on their mental health longer term. So together with some of our community partners we developed a Kindergarten Project.
SPECIFIC GOALS AND OBJECTIVES:
- Increased pro-social interactions amongst the kindergarten children
- Successful integration into the full-time kindergarten program
These goals were met: Students experienced more pro-social interactions with other children and with their educators. There were no classroom evacuations due to student behaviour during the pilot project. There were no instances where a child was sent home due to behaviour. Nor were any students asked to do partial days. Students were no longer sent to the principal’s office for misbehaving.
Educators experienced a reduction in work-related stress. They felt supported by the other kindergarten educators on their team and enjoyed being a part of a collaborative, cohesive team that shared similar philosophy and practices when working with kindergarten students.
The Kindergarten Project community partners include the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa, the Centre of Excellence, and the Ministry of Children and Youth Services.