Interventions in early childhood can have profound preventive and protective impact. As a significant body of research points to the same risks and protective factors, clinicians and service systems have been urged to shift from traditional approaches to new intervention efforts to lower risk and promote protective factors.
Nationwide, SAMHSA’s Project LAUNCH (Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children’s Health) sites are pursuing innovative ways to promote young children’s wellness with the goal of having all children reach physical, social, emotional, behavioral, and cognitive milestones. Healthy growth in each of these areas helps children to thrive in school and beyond. SAMHSA funds states and tribes to work with a selected community to engage key players across the child-serving system to integrate and coordinate programs, policies, data, and funding. Grantees are charged with forming a public-private partnership that includes families to scan communities and pinpoint unmet needs and create strategic plans to guide prevention and promotion strategies.
In the fall of 2012, Vermont was among states awarded LAUNCH funds to implement a strength-based, family-centered, culturally competent community system for promoting young child wellness in all developmental domains. The project, which serves children through 8 years of age and their families, is dedicated to establishing a reliable infrastructure to sustain a comprehensive early childhood service system. The project engages several agencies and organizations in project planning and implementation including the Department of Health’s Division of Maternal and Child Health (VDH), the Department of Mental Health’s Division of Child, Adolescent, and Family Services (DMH), the Department of Education, the Department for Children and Families, safety-net providers, and hospitals.
In the spring of 2013, JSI was hired to provide evaluation services for the project. JSI is using survey and qualitative research methods to collect, manage, and analyze primary and secondary data to inform both the local and SAMHSA’s cross-site evaluation.