Perceptions of Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health for Young Children Involved with Child Welfare: Findings from Massachusetts

Presenter: Kayla Anderson

Research Category: Health Sciences
Additional Authors: Beth E. Molnar, Sameera S. Nayak

Introduction. Children involved with child welfare are at higher risk of mental health challenges in early childhood. The Boston Family Independence, Resilience, Support, and Treatment System of Care (FIRST SOC) is a community-based program being developed by the Boston Public Health Commission to facilitate needed infant and early childhood mental health (IECMH) services for very young children (0-3 years) involved in child welfare.

Methods. In preparation for the rollout of the FIRST SOC program, the Northeastern University evaluation team is conducting a baseline needs assessment to describe the landscape of IECMH across the FIRST SOC implementing agencies: the state child welfare agency, a community service agency, and the local public health department. Data are currently being collected from publicly available information. Once IRB approval is obtained (currently pending), key informant interviews will be conducted with the staff and leadership teams of the involved agencies. Interviews will include questions on the current agency-level state of IECMH, protocols for working with children with challenging health and behavior issues, and recommendations for improving the overall system of care… Interviews will be transcribed and analyzed via thematic analysis using NVivo.

Results. Final themes will be developed through group discussion with members of the research team and presented.

Conclusions. Findings will provide insight into IECMH capacity across agencies and will have implications for the implementation of FIRST SOC.