Developing Healthy Children
This story first appeared in the 2021 It Takes A Valley Campaign Report.
Early Childhood Partners Expands Support for Families
Early Childhood Partners (ECP) supports families and early learning environments by bringing nationally recognized evidence-based programs into homes, schools, and childcare centers. ECP’s efforts focus on young children from birth to age 6, when brain development is peaking, behaviors are learned, and children are introduced to school.
Thanks to funding from Vail Health’s Eagle Valley Behavioral Health (EVBH) and Vail Health Foundation, ECP has been able to create additional pathways for behavioral health equity, including maintaining critical Family Resource Center programs, developing virtual ways to connect with families, and connecting families to resources such as EVBH’s Olivia’s Fund.
Last year, 70 percent of licensed childcare programs in the Eagle River Valley participated in mental health consultation and quality improvement coaching, and 471 sessions were provided for families with children struggling with challenging behavior and possible developmental delays.
“Eagle Valley Behavioral Health has truly expanded the ways in which we’re able to serve parents and teachers,” says Liz Costaldo, Director of Operations, Early Childhood Partners. “Olivia’s Fund has been an absolute game-changer.”
ECP pivoted during the COVID-19 pandemic by hosting multiple live videos on Facebook for caregivers, parents, and teachers in English and Spanish. They found that many parents preferred the virtual format because they could call on their way to work or on a break.
“Supporting caregivers is critical for the healthy development of children because when caregivers are doing well, positive development emerges through warm and responsive relationships,” says Liz. “However, when caregivers aren’t doing well and have little support, young children’s developmental trajectory and mental health can be significantly impeded.”
ECP serves over 1,000 parents and early childhood professionals annually with comprehensive wraparound services offered in English and Spanish. In 2021, more than 700 sessions were provided in Spanish focusing on increasing parenting skills and parent and child attachment, enhancing partner communication, self-regulation strategies for parents, intensive case management and crisis support, and providing financial hardship support and education.
Julia Kozusko, ECP’s Executive Director states, “It is thrilling to partner with Eagle Valley Behavioral Health who agrees about the urgency of working with young children and their caregivers to prevent future mental health issues. There is no time to wait.”