An Ohio initiative is seeking to boost access to mental health consultants in an effort to curb the number of children expelled or suspended from kindergarten, preschool and other early childhood education settings (Source: “Ohio seeks to boost early childhood mental health services,” Associated Press via Akron Beacon Journal, Jan. 26, 2016).
State officials set aside $9.1 million for the initiative in the state’s two-year budget, which will benefit 75 counties, according to the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. The funds allow for up to 64 mental health consultants, who will work with teachers and at-risk students in programs such as Head Start, preschool and child care settings. Some consultants already are in classrooms.
Preschoolers and kindergartens are expelled at a higher rate than high school students in Ohio, which is in line with the national trend, said Dr. Valerie Alloy, who leads the department’s early childhood mental health initiatives. During the 2012-13 academic year, nearly 4,000 out-of-school suspensions and expulsions for fighting and disruptive behaviors were reported for Ohio’s kindergarteners.