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Working With Tribal Communities


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Learn more about the Center of Excellence for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health

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Learn how consultants work with tribal communities and about the importance of adopting culturally sensitive policies.

Please visit the new Center of Excellence for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (CoE IECMHC). This center is continuing the work begun under the first CoE for IECMHC.

Infant and early childhood mental health consultation (IECMHC) is a strategy that tribes can use to build the resilience of its youngest members. Through the use of a holistic, culturally sensitive, and collaborative approach, IECMHC brings together everyone within a child’s circle—family, extended family, teachers, tribal elders, and providers—to develop strategies that support the child.

IECMH consultants meet with families and caregivers in a variety of early care settings, such as Head Start, Early Head Start, childcare, or a home visiting program, to help support children’s physical, emotional, social, and spiritual development.

IECMHC is designed to meet and adapt to the specific needs of the community. Given its focus on enhancing a child’s environment—as opposed to “fixing” a child—the IECMHC model may complement and align well with a tribe's traditional values and practices.

In 2018, the Center of Excellence was proud to welcome a Tribal Expert Work Group (PDF | 141 KB) to lend their expertise and insight into advancing the work of IECMHC in tribal communities.

Vision Statement for Working with Tribes

The Center’s vision is that all children and families will have access to high-quality and affordable IECMHC across early childhood settings. Traditional knowledge and teachings will contribute to the knowledge base about IECMHC and inform the program model, implementation strategies, evaluation methods, and frameworks for continuous quality improvement. Tribal leaders and communities will develop and support culturally specific policies and practices for their programs and families, and use data-informed decision-making based on their unique needs.

Publications and Resources

The following resources highlight key issues pertaining to IECMHC within tribal communities:

Access the IECMHC Toolbox and other resources on IECMHC for additional guidance.

Find topical tribal affairs information and details about SAMHSA’s efforts to address mental health and substance use issues among American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Last Updated

Last Updated: 04/25/2022