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More Mental Health Dollars Coming for Ohio's Young Children

November 23, 2010

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio's response to the mental health needs of young children is expected to get even better. More funding is being allocated to expand the Ohio Early Childhood Health Consultation Program, which helps train early childhood care providers to identify possible social or emotional health issues in young children and get them help.

Sharda Morgan of Cleveland says the program helped her to address some of the behavior issues her son was experiencing in his daycare setting.

"He's now able to communicate better with the other children. He's able to communicate as far as playing with the children with no violent tantrums or no hitting or the fighting."

The director of policy and governmental affairs for the Public Children Services Association of Ohio, Gayle Channing Tenenbaum, says if mental health issues in young children are not addressed, they can develop into much larger problems.

"A higher rate of heart disease, higher rate of cancer, higher rate of arthritis, higher rate of suicide, obesity; all those are related to trauma that children experience at a young age, when it's not treated and dealt with. "

In 2007, the program provided mental health consultations for over 1000 children. Channing Tenenbaum says by intervening at an early age, you can turn the course of what will happen to a child and save taxpayers money at the same time.

"We have data that clearly shows that, in addition to the child not disassociating anymore, not being being depressed in the classroom, not having a series of physical illnesses and paying for a cost of those things, you also are not paying for the cost of special education for these children."

The program is currently used in formal child care settings and Headstart programs but will now expand to child welfare agencies. The additional funding of $2 million is coming from the recent extension of the enhanced F-MAP (Federal Medical Assistance Program) allocation.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH