Early Childhood System of Care

An Early Childhood System of Care promotes coordinated policy and collaborative service delivery to support the many young children with (or at risk for) social, emotional and behavioral needs.

What is an Early Childhood System of Care?

A system of care is a way of doing business that is child-centered and family-driven, integrated and culturally responsive. In an Early Childhood System of Care we promote coordinated policy and collaborative service delivery to support the many young children with (or at risk for) social, emotional and behavioral needs. These children often receive services through schools, pediatricians and other health providers, child welfare, child care, disability service providers, the faith community, and other agencies. The goal is to integrate the broad array of services and supports into a coordinated network that is trauma- and developmentally informed while building meaningful partnerships with community service providers and families.

Why is an Early Childhood System of Care important?

  • Research has shown that the major barrier to school readiness for children is often not the lack of cognitive skills, but rather the absence of needed social and emotional skills.
  • Research has also shown that 12–15% of all children and youth have emotional and behavioral needs that would benefit from services and supports. If not addressed, these needs can lead to an interrelated set of problems including poor school performance, delinquency, early pregnancy, substance abuse, and violence.

Experience and research show that children can succeed when provided with coordinated, developmentally informed, individualized and culturally competent preventive services and interventions. These approaches are especially successful and cost-efficient when provided before the challenges become severe.