Greene County ESC News Article

Breaking New Ground: Greene County ESC Leads the Way in Early Mental Health Intervention for Student Success

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In a pioneering effort launched in 2015 prioritizing the well-being of its youngest students, the Greene County Educational Service Center Mental Health Services (GCESC-MHS) is continuing to set the standard in the realm of early intervention in Ohio. Focused on providing timely and comprehensive support to children with emotional, behavioral, and mental health needs, the program is rapidly responding to ensure the stabilization and inclusion of every child in childcare, preschool, and early education settings.

The GCESC-MHS Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Team (ECMHC) adopts a unique, child-centered approach, delivering developmentally appropriate mental health services that extend beyond the classroom. This holistic strategy aims to support the whole child, addressing their needs at school, at home, and in their childcare environments. The result: the right interventions at the right time.

So far this year, the ECMHC Team has witnessed resounding success following a significant upsurge in referrals and requests for assistance. More children with behavioral challenges and dysregulated emotional issues in the classroom and struggling to “do school” are receiving the necessary interventions. These young students are being maintained and actively included in educational settings with the addition of ECMHC wraparound supports, fostering a more inclusive community and a better start to school.

Crucially, this initiative is generating increased awareness about the impact of preschool expulsion, shedding light on the benefits of inclusion, and providing guidance on when to seek assistance. Expulsion has far-reaching consequences, affecting children, school districts, families, and the wider community. By addressing behavioral and mental health needs early on, GCESC-MHS is mitigating these impacts and building a foundation for success for every student.

The ECMHC program is a beacon of progress in mental health service delivery, illustrating the transformative power of prioritizing mental health in education. The strong partnerships with community childcare centers, preschools, and schools underscore a collective commitment to ensuring every child's success, from the earliest stages of their educational journey.

Unlocking Student Potential: ECMHC Team’s Transformative Impact on Local School Districts

Greene County school districts are experiencing a wave of positive transformation with the introduction of the ECMHC Team services provided by the GCESC Mental Health Services (GCESC-MHS). The benefits are multi-faceted, extending beyond individual student success to creating a healthier and more supportive learning environment for all involved. By addressing mental and behavioral health challenges early, school districts are witnessing improved classroom dynamics, enhanced teacher-student relationships, and increased overall academic engagement.

Preschool, kindergarten, and early elementary students often grapple with mental and behavioral health challenges due to various factors such as delayed social-emotional development, family dynamics, and exposure to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). These challenges can significantly impact learning by creating barriers to effective communication, hindering social interactions, and diminishing a student's ability to focus on academic tasks. The ECMHC Team recognizes these hurdles and works collaboratively with educators, students, and families to provide tailored interventions that foster a positive and conducive learning environment.

What sets the ECMHC Team apart is its composition of highly specialized mental health clinicians, practitioners, and therapists acting as consultants. This diverse team brings a wealth of expertise, ensuring that the interventions provided are not only timely but also precisely tailored to the unique needs of each student. Having such a comprehensive team at the disposal of Greene County school districts allows for a nuanced and flexible approach to mental health support, contributing to a more holistic and effective educational system.

Greene County school districts can easily access ECMHC Team services either on-demand or through contracting for onsite services. This flexibility empowers educators to seek assistance precisely when needed, whether for a specific student or to address broader classroom dynamics. The team's availability reflects a commitment to supporting the well-being of both students and educators, reinforcing Greene County's dedication to providing a high-quality and inclusive education for every child.

Beavercreek Public Preschool Marks 5 Years of Innovative Early Childhood Mental Health Services

Beavercreek’s public preschool, Beavercreek Preschool, is marking a significant milestone as it celebrates five years of partnering with GCESC to provide cutting-edge Early Childhood Mental Health Services. This innovative initiative includes consultation, therapy, family engagement, and specialized training, all aimed at addressing the increasingly complex needs of the district’s youngest learners.

The program, designed to give students the best possible educational outcomes by proactively addressing their mental health, has been crucial in helping these young learners “do school” successfully. By embedding mental health services within the educational framework, Beavercreek Preschool has become a trailblazer in fostering a holistic approach to student well-being.

Beavercreek Preschool’s commitment to innovation extends beyond academic excellence, encompassing a holistic approach to meet the varied developmental, emotional, and behavioral needs of its young students. Recognizing the diverse backgrounds of its student body, including families with trauma exposure, military families, and those new to the community, the preschool has implemented proactive measures to provide extra support early and often.

By fostering an inclusive environment that caters to the unique challenges these families may face, Beavercreek Preschool aims to ensure that every child feels supported, understood, and empowered to thrive both academically and emotionally. This thoughtful approach reflects the preschool’s dedication to creating a nurturing space where all children can flourish.

Beavercreek Preschool Director, Kristine Montague, has been an advocate for the program since the early days. “Addressing students’ social emotional needs and mental health needs is vitally important to their success at school,” said Montague. “When students feel safe and connected to staff then they are ready to learn and grow. The support from ECMH our students, families and staff receive helps us all to meet the individual needs of each child within our program.”

Montague’s commitment to early childhood mental health services reflects the district’s dedication to providing a comprehensive foundation for their youngest students.

Team-Based Approach Prioritizes Student & Staff Well-being for School

The ECMHC embedded at Beavercreek Preschool offers powerful insights and supports to all the adults in the environment. Libby Wagner, BSW, M.Ed, OIMHP-III, ECMH-C, and Audrey Shirk Kessel, MSW, LSW, OIFP-II, ECMH-C, work collaboratively with the staff and families to address student needs.

“It has been a privilege working in tandem with the amazing staff, Director, and children at Beavercreek Preschool Center. Everyone is truly aware and open to the importance of early childhood mental health interventions, the significance of language and relationships as well as trauma informed learning environments.” said Libby Wagner.

Mental Health intervention and therapy is not something that solely exists in one space, rather, it’s sprinkled throughout that child’s life in every space the child occupies. True healing occurs in the environments and relationships the child is in. The preschool has worked diligently to ensure that all children, whether they have a trauma background or not, are seen and heard, and served so they can reach their full potential.

Grace Schoessow, MS, OIMHP-III, ECMHC, Director of the ECMH Program, emphasizes the impact of the program on the students. “By integrating consultation, therapy, family engagement, and specialized training, we’re not just addressing problems as they arise; we’re actively helping shape a positive environment for preschoolers to thrive emotionally developmentally and academically.”

Beavercreek Preschool has implemented professional development sessions for Intervention Specialists, directors, and the elementary school behavioral team. These training sessions contribute to a shared understanding of effective intervention strategies.

In addition to classroom and child focused mental health interventions, the ECMHC team supports parent nights, fostering engagement with community parents and area childcare centers. This inclusive approach encourages a collaborative partnership between educators and families to create a supportive ecosystem for the children.

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