Consultation Services

Early Childhood Mental Health Consultants

Healthy Social-Emotional Development is the Foundation for All Child Development and Learning

Illinois Action for Children’s Early Childhood Mental Health Consultants Are Here to Support You!

Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Overview:

Our Early Childhood Mental Health Consultants (ECMHC) provide services for center- and home-based early care and education providers who care for children from birth-5 years old at no cost to the providers.

This service is provided through the Illinois Department of Human Services, in collaboration with Caregiver Connections and the statewide consultation program, which is available throughout Chicago and Cook County.

IAFCs Early Childhood Mental Health Consultants bring an advanced level of training and expertise and work with your team to build collaborative, strengths-based relationships. Through these relationships, we will partner with you to increase your understanding of children’s social-emotional development and the meaning behind their behaviors. Your consultant will work with you to establish goals important to you that will guide your work.

The current events related to COVID-19 can be stressful, confusing, and in some instances traumatic for many people and communities. Children are not exempt to these feelings of distress.

Illinois Action for Children is pleased to offer the opportunity for home- and center-based child care providers to participate in a no-cost, virtual early childhood mental health consultation. Consultations can be conducted via phone or video conference covering the following topics:

  • Social-Emotional Concerns
  • Behavioral Concerns
  • Developmental Concerns
  • Staff Concerns/Issues
  • Working with Families
  • Identifying Resources for children/families/staff

Children need to feel safe, heard, and understood. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has identified the presence of safe, stable, and nurturing adults as the most important protective factor for children and young people in the face of stress and adversity. It is important for adults to talk with children about COVID-19 to assure they receive age-appropriate, factual information, and to understand and help them process their feelings.

The greatest truth of this pandemic is we are all in this together. Each of us has a part to contribute to our fight against this virus and to bring our world back to some sense of normalcy; even children.

IAFCs Early Childhood Mental Health Consultants bring advanced training and expertise and will work with you to help you provide the best support possible to the children in your care.

Expected Outcomes of an Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Engagement:

  • Increased teacher and director/administrator knowledge of child development and ability to intentionally teach social-emotional learning.
  • Decrease in use of suspensions and expulsion, as well as instances or perception of behavior challenges in classroom.
  • Improved communication between programs and families.
  • Increased SEL competencies within adults, including a decrease in adult desire to “control” activities and behaviors.
  • Decreased teacher/administrator stress, burnout and turnover.
  • Improved quality of relationships between parents and children, teachers and children, teachers and parents, and within teaching teams.

Early Child Hood Mental Health Consultation Approach:

IAFCs ECMHC program utilizes the 360 Bridge Model for Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Framework for Relationship-based Consulting. This unique approach operationalizes the flow of the Consultation engagement into distinctive, guided phases that are rooted in the relationship between the provider and consultant.

Arrow pointing to the right


  • Initial contact with site and review of services, introductory material
  • Assessment and collaborative development of consultative plan
  • Site tour and informal observations
  • Reflective learning

white circle inside a dark grey circle


  • Bi-weekly or weekly visits
  • Consultation plan implemented and reviewed every 4-6 weeks
  • Pyramid Model used in concert with consultation to build staff capacity
  • Intentional coaching, professional development, and group consultation
  • General and individual observations
  • Evaluative discussion and movement to monitoring phase

white flag


  • Follow-up activities related to consultation plan
  • Reduced coaching frequency, more check ins and fewer child-specific observations
  • Spot check general observations
  • Referrals for individual observation continue
  • Evaluative discussion and movement to maintenance phase



  • 1-2 hour visits as needed
  • Consultant plans with provider to transition responsibility for plan-capacity-building
  • Active consultation transitions to a close after 60-90 days
  • Provide may still reach out for support as needed

The 360 Bridge Model aligns to and builds upon the Illinois Model for Infant/Early Childhood Consultation, that establishes a clear foundation by; defining the consultant role, identifying the competencies of a consultant, and articulating the components of consultation.

Frequently Asked Questions

This service is provided at no cost to you through the Illinois Department of Human Services, in collaboration with Caregiver Connections and the statewide consultation program and Illinois Action for Children, which is available throughout Chicago and Cook County.

No. However, according to Illinois statues, child care providers and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultants are mandated reporters and must report suspected child abuse and neglect to the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) hotline.

Yes. A parent or guardian must sign a consent form before we can observe a child individually. We also conduct general observations of children and classrooms which does not require parental consent.

The only time we share information with a school district is when a parent or guardian has signed a ‘release of information’ form from the school district and requests us to do so.

No. If an evaluation or assessment is needed, we help families locate the appropriate services.

No. We help families locate counseling, mental health services or resource when these services are required.

We provide consultation with parents and caregivers about their child, particularly when we have been asked to do an individual observation of that child. However we do not provide parent education workshops or groups at this time.


Yes. We work with providers to protect their confidentiality and the confidentiality of the children and families.