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Early Childhood Mental Health & Children’s Integrated Services 

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Jenifer Haskins, MS Family Outreach Clinician, Youth & Family Services

It is my pleasure to provide an outlook of services provided by the Early Childhood Mental Health – Children Integrated Services; known as CIS. United Counseling Service has the opportunity to contract with Sunrise Family Resource Center in Bennington County. This contract provides early mental health services for children age birth to six years. So, what does this mean exactly and what factors take place?

Early Childhood and Family Mental Health (ECFMH) works around a family-centered approach. Support includes developing relationships between children and parents, education around relationships, increasing positive interactions, and decreasing risk factors. CIS offers clinical intervention services to young children who may struggle socially, emotionally, or behaviorally. These struggles may occur in a Pre-K school, day school/daycare, or home settings. Clinical mental health services are provided not just to the child, but for the parent too. Referrals are requested through parent or provider, intake and Find Access to Services and Treatment are completed for the individual, and that is where I start! Clinical assessments, treatment planning, and goals and objectives are developed with the child and family to help meet the needs of the individual. An Integrated One Plan provides updated documentation (initial, six-month review, and annual review) regarding the client’s progress and concerns. The goal is to help ensure the healthy development and well-being of the child and increase stabilization of social, emotional, and behavioral struggles.

Working out of the Northshire office here in Manchester, VT, I have the pleasure working not only in Children Youth & Family Services (CYFS), but as a CIS clinician as well. Attending weekly CIS team meetings, collaborating with team members, including Children Integrated Services coordinator, Kelly Belville, BS. Traveling to and from different day school facilities keeps me busy. Providing evidence-based and informed services to families and young children is key and my caseload has increased double in just 2023 alone. Kelly shared, “We do more with less per se.” According to the 2023 legislative agenda, state funding has increased over the past two years providing actual cost of services. However, CIS referrals are increasing statewide and even right here in Manchester. Currently, the CIS program has a budget deficit for the 2023-2024 fiscal year. What does this mean? We need more funding, and more alliance supports. With help and additional funding, we can continue to provide these great services for children and families in need.

I truly enjoy my work. Providing social, emotional, and behavioral resources to young children has become my focus. It keeps me busy for sure and I would not want it any other way. I have created such a strong rapport with each and every young individual. My modalities provide a variety of platforms that I use for each child. Their favorite is definitely my token visual system that I created. I also offer psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, sensory-tool visuals, mindfulness, exposure therapy, trauma-informed “boom box” techniques, and play therapy.

So, you see, there are many factors. First, the referral process; second, I step in and create a plan with a variety of modalities and/or resources to help the individual; third, the fun part begins; and lastly, is funding—we need more. It is so worth it to help these young individuals and families. They put a smile on my face every day. United Counseling Service, together with Early Child Mental Health, form a great team.

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