Breaking News for Babies: Congress Passes Mental Health Reform for Infants and Toddlers

ZERO TO THREE: BREAKING NEWS FOR BABIES

Congress Passes Mental Health Reform
Legislation Includes Grants for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health

Huge news for infant and toddler advocates! Today, Congress passed broad mental health reform legislation, including new grants to promote infant and early childhood mental health! Rolled into the larger 21st Century Cures Act, the legislation was passed along bipartisan lines.

Spearheaded by ZERO TO THREE and advocates across the country, the inclusion of the infant and early childhood mental health grants signals that Congress has now recognized the need to begin comprehensive mental health reform where the foundations of strong mental health are laid – with young children, starting from birth. Specifically, the provision:

  • Authorizes $20 million for grants to develop, maintain or enhance infant and early childhood mental health promotion, intervention, and treatment programs.
  • Ensures that funded programs are grounded in evidence and are culturally and linguistically appropriate.
  • Allows funds to support:
    • age-appropriate promotion, early intervention, and treatment services;
    • training mental health clinicians in infant and early childhood mental health;
    • training for infant and early childhood mental health clinicians to integrate with other providers who work with young children and families; and
    • mental health consultation in early care and education programs.

“This is an important victory toward improved infant mental health prevention, identification and treatment – and the first time the needs of very young children have been recognized by Congress,” said Matthew Melmed, Executive Director of ZERO TO THREE. “We are extremely grateful to the Congressional champions on this issue, including Senators Bill Cassidy and Chris Murphy, Chairman Lamar Alexander and Ranking Member Patty Murray, and Chairman Fred Upton and Ranking Member Frank Pallone for recognizing that babies’ mental health matters and fighting for them throughout this process.” Click here to read ZERO TO THREE’s full statement.

President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law soon.

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