Advancing Resources for Children (ARCh) Project: Connecting NC’s Systems to Strengthen Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Outcomes
The Center for Child & Family Health (CCFH) has been awarded a new five-year $2.5 million grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to address Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health (IECMH) across North Carolina. One of only four such grants awarded by SAMHSA across the country this cycle, the ARCh Project leverages CCFH’s current IECMH faculty expertise; the experience of the READY Project and the NC Child Treatment Program at CCFH; and CCFH’s many collaborations with state partners in the IECMH arena.
The primary focus of the ARCh Project is to improve infant and early childhood mental health (IECMH) outcomes of North Carolina children ages birth to five by increasing access to services and advancing workforce capacity to effectively meet their needs. Undergirding all planned ARCh activities is a goal of reducing disparities in access to IECMH practices across our state that are:
- developmentally sensitive,
- and evidence-based
“Much like a physical arch, the ARCh Project will connect the parts of the North Carolina early childhood system of care in order to carry more of the load for families with young children to support positive mental health,” says ARCh faculty member Karen Appleyard Carmody.
In addition to core faculty and staff at CCFH, key partners in the development of the ARCh Project proposal and its planned implementation include North Carolina’s Division of Child and Family Wellbeing (DCFW), the NC Division of Early Care and Education (DCDEE), the North Carolina Infant Mental Health Association (NCIMHA), Duke University’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences’ NC Psychiatry Access Line (NC PAL), and NC Child.
For five years, from Fall of 2022 until Fall of 2027, CCFH will partner with agencies around the state and engage families of young children to build a robust NC workforce focused on young children’s mental health. ARCh will:
- expand mental health consultation to pediatricians and early interventionists,
- support the development of a statewide childcare consultation model,
- increase equitable access to IECMH endorsement,
- and provide training and supervision to professionals across the state in a wide range of IECMH topics, including screening, referrals and cross-disciplinary collaboration, diagnostic assessment, reflective supervision, secondary traumatic stress, and more!
What’s in a name?
The name ARCh was selected based on the strengths and capacities that arches convey. As a structure that supports the load between two points and over an opening, arch bridges can span vast areas. An arch transforms the forces affecting the loadbearing points, and because of this, they are used to support very large masses that get placed on top of them.
Similarly, through the ARCh Project, we will connect pieces of IECMH work that NC already has in place, connect regions and places to spread and share resources, and connect the different sectors (including but not exclusive to childcare, pediatrics, treatment, and early intervention) to share and expand knowledge of IECMH. Doing this together, we will be stronger and able to carry more of the load for families!
The ARCh Project is funded through an Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health (IECMH) grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).