Early Childhood Mental Health

The early years of a child's life are a critical period for their physical, cognitive, and social-emotional development.

Young child development can be negatively impacted by a number of adverse factors, including untreated parental substance use or mental health, which can lead to toxic or long-term stress. Early intervention and early childhood mental health (ECMH) services can help to prevent lifelong negative effects in young children. Treating their mental health issues promptly and within the context of their families is essential.

We are partnering to expand these services in Nebraska by offering the first Child-Parent Psychotherapy training program in the state, providing consultation and training on ECMH and the impact of trauma, and co-sponsoring the Nebraska Young Child Institute, a state-wide conference for professionals who work with at-risk young children.

Learn more about Early Childhood Mental Health in Nebraska

Free, online, self-paced course

Understanding Early Childhood Attachment, Trauma, and Development
This course contains three short mini courses for anyone with – or working with – young children to understand the importance of caregiver relationships and how those relationships, and early childhood trauma, impacts development.
You will need to create an account before you can enroll in the course.

Our Work

Before 2009, evidence-based early childhood mental health services were not available in Nebraska. In fact, there wasn't even a general recognizable need for baby and toddler mental health services. The predecessor to the NRPVYC, the Court Improvement Project, stepped into that gap in 2009 and received a federal grant to be the first Child-Parent Psychotherapy (CPP) trainers in Sarpy, Douglas, and Lancaster counties. In 2015, the Child-Parent Psychotherapy Learning Collaborative was established between the Nebraska Resource Project for Vulnerable Young Children and three other Nebraska CPP trainers. We currently host annual training cohorts beginning each January.


Learn more about the Nebraska Child-Parent Psychotherapy Learning Collaborative.


The Nebraska Child-Parent Psychotherapy Learning Collaborative

I have had the pleasure to witness how fundamental change can occur for my clients through the micro-interactions fostered in CPP sessions. I've seen parents who grow enormously in their confidence to meet their child's needs, and I've seen children who get to reshape their understanding of trust in their caregiver. Most of the time families are sad to discharge as the CPP experience has been so healing for them!

Jayna Baczwaski, LIMHP, LSW
Mental Health Practitioner

Trauma occurs when a child has an experience that is so overwhelming that they cannot cope effectively with the threat. Toxic stress is a strong, frequent or prolonged state of physiological activation due to events in a child’s life that cannot be buffered by the child’s relationships. Both trauma and toxic stress impact the development of young children.


Young children exposed to trauma often have symptoms related to dysregulation of emotional states, developmental delays, and problems in the caregiver-child relationship. If left untreated, many of these problems can progress into adolescence and beyond with significant impact not only to their social and emotional well-being but also their overall health.


The PATH to Trauma Therapy: A Guide for Getting Traumatized Children the Help They Need Brochure Cover

The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study illustrated that early exposure to traumatic life events can have significant impacts on the trajectory of one’s physical and emotional health. The Path to Trauma Therapy is a guide designed to help readers navigate systems to get children into the services that can help get them back on a healthy developmental trajectory, heal relationships, and increase social and emotional well-being. The NRPVYC offers consultation and training beyond the Path to Trauma Therapy brochure to ensure that professionals have the information they need to best serve the children and families with which they work.

We are offering Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation with an emphasis on reflective practice where ECMH therapists meet twice a month to discuss cases, enhance their professional identity, increase mindful self-regulation and work through systems and team-related issues.  The Nebraska Resource Project for Vulnerable Young Children recognizes the emotionally intrusive nature of early childhood mental health practice and how experiences in high-stakes cases requires self-care and reflection.  We are pleased to support this consultation to examine current and past actions to improve case conceptualization, work performance and client outcomes.


For more information or to sign up for twice-monthly consultation sessions, contact Samantha Byrns.


two pairs of hands visible on either side of a desk

The NRPVYC partners with the Nebraska Early Development Network (EDN) and several other organizations to host the Nebraska Young Child Institute (NYCI). The NYCI is a state-wide conference held every two years for multidisciplinary professionals to connect on issues to improve the outcomes of young children. The goal is to address the needs of young children and their families from prevention to intervention. This conference allows time for a cross-sector collaboration to connect on the issues to deeply assess and respond to our communities' most pressing needs.


Learn more about the Nebraska Young Child Institute.




Past NYCI attendees were from a wide variety of professions, including:

  • Attorneys
  • Caseworkers
  • Early Childhood Educators
  • EDN Service Coordinators
  • Head Start Personnel
  • Home Visitors
  • Judges
  • Medical Providers
  • Mental Health Clinicians
  • School Representatives
  • Academics
  • Students

I cannot think of a conference I've attended (over 40 years of being involved in various aspects of child welfare) that provided as much knowledge, inspiration and networking opportunity OR that ran so smoothly (on the surface) in all aspects. Just an outstanding experience all around.

2018 NYCI Attendee

Trainings We Offer:

Child-Parent Psychotherapy (CPP) is a dyadic intervention for parents and their children five and under who have been exposed to trauma, such as child maltreatment, sudden or traumatic deaths of loved ones, witnessing domestic violence, disrupted attachments with caregivers, or multiple changes of placement. The primary goals of CPP are to strengthen or repair the parent-child relationship, promote the child's social-emotional development, and to minimize harmful developmental consequences of the trauma.


Learn more about our CPP training program.


Over 100 therapists report to be active CPP providers in Nebraska.

See our statewide certification list.

Applications for new CPP training cohorts open every September.

Learn more about the application process

I like how CPP is a closer look at the parent and child relationship. It provides an opportunity for parents to better understand their child’s perspective of difficult situations while also helping them heal. CPP is a hopeful and protective therapy that has improved relationships for both parents and children.

Samantha Byrns, M.S.Ed., LMHP, NCC
Mental Health Practitioner

Many children entering the child welfare system are exposed to severe or prolonged trauma. In many instances, they have serious physical and mental health needs that should be addressed. Identifying trauma and appropriately responding is critical to ensure the child's well-being; therefore, all children who have been maltreated should be screened for trauma. Screening for trauma will help identify children who require an immediate stabilization and for whom a complete trauma assessment by a qualified provider is needed.


Last year, over 100 people across Nebraska attended one of our Understanding and Screening for Trauma in Young Children trainings. This three-hour training covers:

  • The impact of trauma on early childhood development.
  • Trauma screens and assessments as well as how to use them.
  • Effective treatments for children who have experienced trauma.


This training is free, just click on a date below to register.

A crying robot made of paper holding a broken heart.

Each year, the NRPVYC holds several live webinars on a variety of early childhood mental health and related topics. We bring in experts from around the region to speak on their specialties. In the past, we've had lectures from speech therapists, occupational therapists, and early childhood therapists from all over Nebraska.


We're scheduling new webinars all the time! If you missed one of our webinars, you can check out the recorded version below.

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