We’re pleased to announce the recent presentation of our 2019 Janet Sevier Gilbreath Special Project Recognition Award to Prairie View, Inc., Newton, for its Tri-County Children’s Mental Health Project (The Children’s Project).
The award, in honor of the Fund’s first Board chair, is presented each year to one outstanding project selected by the Health Fund Board of Directors from among all current funded projects. Prairie View, the community mental health center serving Harvey, Marion, and McPherson counties, was chosen for the award in 2020 but presentation was postponed due to COVID-19.
Research shows that early childhood, starting from before birth, is the time most important for the healthy social-emotional and brain development which provides the foundation for readiness to learn in school and success throughout life. Research also shows that supporting healthy development from the earliest ages, including identifying and addressing concerns before they become problems, achieves both the best outcomes and best return on investment.
In 2011 the Health Fund launched its Young Children’s Mental Health pilot program in a challenging environment. More children were being expelled from preschool than from the K-12 education system. Stigma issues and concerns about ‘labeling’ often prevented seeking mental health support. And there was limited individual and research focus on the interplay between nurturing caregiver relationships, healthy development, and school readiness.
The pilot program was one of the Fund’s early strategies to address these issues, through community-level approaches supporting integration of social-emotional screening for children 0-6 and maternal depression screening into medical and local community systems, along with timely referrals to effective early interventions.
Prairie View’s Tri-County Children’s Mental Health Project
In 2015, with a four-year grant under that pilot program, Prairie View began The Children’s Project to improve accessibility of screening and early treatment for young children in frontier and rural regions.
Prairie View staff worked with local physician groups to incorporate the Ages and Stages Questionnaire: Social Emotional (ASQ:SE) for children through age 6, along with Edinburgh maternal depression screenings, into office visits and to assist with referrals to services. Project staff sponsored local ASQ:SE training led by Dr. Pam Shaw, a pediatrician associated with the University of Kansas Hospital, and consistently followed up with providers to facilitate continued integration of ASQ-SE and maternal depression screening and referrals within their region.
The program collaborated with the local early education center to use the screening and referral process to better serve children identified with social-emotional needs. During the four-year grant period, The Children’s Project completed an average of 1,099 ASQ:SE screenings of children ages 0-5 annually – representing 33% of the children in the three counties.
“We don’t want to screen the children for social-emotional development, identify they are in need of services and then have no place to send them.”
Faced with pushback from some local physicians concerned about screening children, identifying social-emotional concerns, then having no place to refer them to for needed services, Prairie View listened to those concerns and acted – hiring and training additional therapists and support staff to accommodate the increasing need.
Prairie View’s commitment to supporting the community led to continued work with community partners which resulted in availability of summer programming and evidence-based, affordable parent training and education. Further integrating early childhood social-emotional support within the community, Prairie View developed a therapeutic preschool which has had tremendous success in supporting children’s social-emotional needs to help them transition back to their early education programs – and is even housed at their early education center.
The number of children screened through this grant and development of community supports demonstrates the quality of Prairie View’s work and commitment to young children and their families. For these accomplishments and for their leadership and service to expectant mothers, infants and young children, Prairie View, Inc. is presented the 2019 Janet Sevier Gilbreath Special Project Recognition award for their work in the Early Childhood Mental Health Project.
Representing the project at the June 29, 2021 awards ceremony in Newton were Elizabeth Guhman, PhD., Vice President, Clinical Services; Diane Peltier, Vice President, Advancement, and Nicole Stevenson, Clinician. Prairie View was chosen to receive the award in 2020 but the presentation celebration was delayed due to COVID-19.Back to All News