World Mental Health Day on October 10th reminds us that we need to recognize our social/emotional health just like we consider all our other health needs. We have all experienced strenuous changes over the last few years with disruptions to our routines or daily habits. The effects this is having especially on children and their mental health is something we need to pay more attention to overall.

Effects on Early Childhood Development and Behaviors

Child care providers are expressing the differences they are seeing in the children they care for and how the behavior of children is greatly affecting them and the families in their programs. The CDC has stated, “Being mentally healthy during childhood means reaching developmental and emotional milestones and learning healthy social skills and how to cope when there are problems.”

The need for more social emotional learning has never been greater to help children develop these skills in their early years. When you are working with young children it’s important to know some of the things you need to look for when a child is having challenging behaviors or not reaching developmental and emotional milestones. Serious deviations from how kids generally learn, behave, or manage their emotions are referred to as mental disorders in children. These deviations create distress and make daily tasks difficult. Many kids periodically suffer anxiety, worry, or act out in disruptive ways. The child may be diagnosed with a mental condition if their symptoms are severe, persistent, and interfere with their ability to perform at play, at home, or at school.

Helpful Skills and Strategies for Child Care Providers

Providing yourself with self-care routines can help you while you are dealing with the different challenges affecting the children you care for, either as a parent or provider. We offer many different trainings to help you learn new skills and strategies while working with young children and when dealing with your own thoughts and emotions. Trust in a World of Uncertainty is an upcoming training that offers strategies to build trust/belief in yourself so you feel more in control of your thoughts and emotions – and of your life. You will also explore the many benefits of self-belief through this training. If you’d like more information or to register for this training, contact Annemarie at 815.484.9448 ext. 211.

Additional Free Resources Available

Every county in the state of Illinois is covered by an Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant (ECMHC) through Caregiver Connections.  The ECMHC can reflect with a child care provider to recognize, understand and respond to the social-emotional needs of children birth to five who are in their care.  As an ECMHC our mission is to support child care providers, families and communities, to build capacity in nurturing positive relationships, healthy social-emotional development and resiliency for all young children.

If you need assistance in Winnebago, Jo Daviess, Boone, or Stephenson Counties you may email Mary Kelley, LCPC, I/ECMH at [email protected]  If you need assistance in another county, you may contact the intake coordinator at Caregiver Connections at 217.592.0389.

You may also contact a Quality Specialist that may be able to assist with your needs as well and provide strategies for social emotional learning or to help you provide quality care to children that are struggling. If you need support for a child age birth to three you may contact Andrea at 815.484.9448 ext. 228 or email [email protected]. If the child is three or older you may contact Stephanie at 815.484.9448 ext. 234 or email [email protected].


By: Stephanie Siemens (Edited by: Stephanie Koclanis)