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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Over 100 therapists report to be active CPP providers in Nebraska.
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:
This training is free, just click on a date below to register.
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.
Hazen, K., Patnode, C., Fessinger, M., & Cole-Mossman, J. (2018). Child-Parent Psychotherapy in child welfare court: an evaluation. Poster presented at the Children, Youth, and Families Studies Summit on Research in Early Childhood.
*Citations with the "" symbol have undergraduate co-authors.