RENSSEALER – Youth Research Inc. (YRI) announces a $ 675,000 grant from the Robin Hood Foundation to build organizational capacity and implement a mental health counseling (MHC) pilot project in collaboration with the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS).
YRI and OCFS will work with the Robin Hood Early Learning Fund (FUEL) team to improve access to mental health services for children enrolled in early childhood education programs in the state of New York, from birth to age three, their most critical developmental period. Early childhood experiences, whether negative or positive, multiply throughout childhood, adolescence and adulthood. Children living in poverty are particularly vulnerable.
YRI will collect and evaluate data to determine how CSM should be conducted in the future of OCFS child care programs and to generate policy recommendations to the OCFS.
The funding will help YRI to implement more pilot projects and emerging initiatives; hire project management and organizational development staff; develop processes and procedures to position the organization to meet emerging and immediate needs; and establish the organization as a center for research and policy.
“Too many New Yorkers are born into poverty, growing up in a context rich in racial and economic injustices,” said Dr. Kelvin Chan, general manager of early childhood at Robin Hood. “YRI’s mental health counseling project will help transform New York City into an environment where all infants and toddlers have a fair chance for a bright future.
Research indicates that the use of early childhood mental health counseling (ECMHC) improves the quality of early childhood education programs and decreases behavior-related preschool expulsions (https: //www.jaacap. org / article / S0890-8567 (16) 30283-0 / full text).
In partnership with OCFS, YRI and the Robin Hood Foundation will pilot a state-wide MHC program using the Climate Toolkit’s Infant Child Assessment (IT-CHILD) healthy interactions for learning and development (CHILD). YRI will analyze CSM implementation data to inform the statewide, OCFS-led implementation of proven CSM practices that improve early care and learning.
YRI Executive Director Cassie Pustilnik said: “We are extremely happy to be associated with the Robin Hood Foundation. Our shared deep commitment to improving service delivery to families affected by racial and economic injustice is the catalyst for this critical mental health consultative work that we are beginning. Working with Robin Hood, the New York State Office of Child and Family Services, Yale University and other nonprofit partners, we aim to ensure that children and families families across the state have more equitable access to high-quality child care, a critical resource that plays a critical role in early childhood development and has a lasting impact on the community.