September 19 – For parents of Michigan kids facing expulsion from day care or preschool due to behavior problems, options for help vanished quickly when the state's Child Care Enhancement Program was discontinued in 2010.
However, a glimmer of hope has now come to families in Northwest Michigan, by way of grants from the Charlevoix County Community Foundation and the Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation. The combined $7,000 in grant funds will enable the Health Department of Northwest Michigan (HDNW) to partner with Char-Em Intermediate School District (ISD) and North Country Community Mental Health (CMH) to provide mental health consultation for children up to 5 years of age who cannot qualify for other mental health services.
“We're a safety net,” explained Natalie Kasiborski, HDNW Community Health Coordinator. “Our aim is to not only prevent expulsion from child care and preschool, but also to connect children to the mental health services they need. Beyond helping kids and their families, it's a benefit to child care and preschool providers, as well as other children in the classroom or child care setting. This effort dovetails with the ISD's existing programs and will continue to be useful, long after the funds are gone.”
Sara Ward, Program Officer for the Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation, said she has been impressed with the Health Department's past efforts to improve community access to health care resources. “We want to encourage the collaborative work that the Health Department is leading, to help families and early childhood care providers with resources for young children experiencing behavioral and emotional health concerns,” she said. “We are confident that their work in early childhood mental health will help families to better outcomes for their children.”
Maureen Radke, Program Officer for the Charlevoix County Community Foundation, expressed similar enthusiasm. “We are especially pleased to be a partner in this research-based, preventative service,” she said. “The program will identify gaps in care and unaddressed problems, possibly saving the young child from more serious behavioral issues in the future. It is well worth the investment.”
The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties.