Federal agencies join forces to help young children thrive

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and Administration for Children and Families (ACF) announced today that they have joined together to establish a new National Center of Excellence for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (Center of Excellence).

The Education Development Center, Inc., in Waltham, Massachusetts will receive $6 million over the course of the next four years to manage the Center of Excellence.

The Center of Excellence advances infant and early childhood mental health intervention that promotes the social, emotional, and behavioral health and development of young children.  It has been shown to improve young children’s social skills, reduce challenging behaviors, enrich adult-child relationships, improve classroom quality, and reduce teacher stress and turnover.

“This collaborative effort reflects the critical role early childhood providers, parents, and caretakers play in facilitating a young child’s social, emotional, and cognitive development,” said SAMHSA acting administrator Kana Enomoto.  “The Center of Excellence will help provide the effective tools and resources to child care centers, Head Start and Early Head Start programs, and other home visiting programs to ensure the healthy development of children during their formative years.”

The Center of Excellence will support the Obama administration’s goal of expanding access to high-quality early care, education and home visiting for all young children through:

  • Developing state of the art tools, training and technical assistance to help states and Tribal nations build strong and sustainable behavioral health support systems for children.
  • Ensuring that more child care centers, preschools, and home visiting programs have access to consultants who can help them meet the needs of young children, particularly those struggling with developmental and behavioral challenges.
  • Advancing research, training and policies that improve outcomes for young children, including reducing in suspensions and expulsions from early childhood programs.

The Center of Excellence also aligns with the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force Report to the President, which recommends that all children should have a healthy start and enter school ready to learn – cognitively, socially, and emotionally.  The Center of Excellence will help to ensure that teachers, staff, caregivers, and communities have the resources to address the social, emotional, behavioral, and physical needs of children.

“The new Center of Excellence is a vital and cost-effective investment in the next generation and in many future generations to come,” said Linda K. Smith, deputy assistant secretary for early childhood development at ACF.

The Center of Excellence will provide child care centers, preschools, and home visiting programs with unprecedented access to expertise needed to enhance their capacity to support the well-being of young families and children.

“Safe, secure, and positive relationships are essential for the future well-being of infants and young children.  We are thrilled about this opportunity to strengthen the relationships among caregivers and young children through education, workforce development, and research,” said Michael Lu, MD, associate administrator for maternal and child health at HRSA.

For more information about SAMHSA and its programs go to: www.samhsa.gov

For more information about ACF and its programs go to: www.acf.hhs.gov

For more information about HRSA and its programs go to: www.hrsa.gov

For more information, contact the SAMHSA Press Office at 240-276-2130.


The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA's mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America's communities.

Last Updated: 10/07/2015