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Tribal advocates keep up legal pressure for fair political maps; 12-member jury sworn in for Trump's historic criminal trial; the importance of healthcare decision planning; and a debt dilemma: poll shows how many people wrestle with college costs.

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Civil rights activists say a court ruling could end the right to protest in three southern states, a federal judge lets January 6th lawsuits proceed against former President Trump, and police arrest dozens at a Columbia University Gaza protest.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

WA investment could grow reach of child mental health program

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Monday, January 29, 2024   

A program in Washington state is helping young kids with challenging behaviors. It's hoping to secure more funding during the legislative session this year.

Holding Hope provides free mental health consultation for children, families, teachers and early education providers.

Janet Fraatz, director of infant and early childhood mental health consultation with Child Care Aware of Washington, said there's a backlog of people who could benefit from the proven mental health strategies Holding Hope provides.

"It's basically an adult capacity-building endeavor," said Fraatz, "to support and strengthen the things that they already know, and to support them with situations that are challenging with young children."

The program is free to licensed providers participating in the Early Achievers program.

Fraatz said Holding Hope is helping between 120 and 140 programs at any given time, with about 100 providers on their waitlist.

There's a request to increase the program's annual budget by $1.75 million.

Erika Larson is an early childhood mental health consultant with Holding Hope. She said the program works by building relationships with facilities, teachers and parents.

Typically, they get requests when children present a safety concern to their class.

"If we think about how behavior is communication and what's going on behind that," said Larson, "we can work with the kids to help them get the things that they need in a new way and then help support the teachers learn how to meet those needs in a more helpful way for the classroom as a whole and for the child."

The program has a track record of reducing expulsions and improving child behavior. Fraatz said that benefits everyone.

"We're improving teacher-child interactions, we're just decreasing stress and staff turnover, overall improvement in the classroom social-emotional climate," said Fraatz, "and it enhances their teaching skills with regard to social-emotional topics."

Fraatz says there's one mental health consultant for every 12,000 kids in Washington. The recommended ratio is one for every 300 kids.



Disclosure: Child Care Aware of Washington contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Children's Issues, Early Childhood Education, Mental Health. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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