Early Childhood Consulting Program
Robin Kitchell – Program Director (1996-1999)
Gary Smith – Program Coordinator (1996-2000)
Matt Timm, Ph.D. – Program Director (1999-2010)
Mamie McKenzie – Program Coordinator (2000-2010)
The TVC Early Childhood Consulting Program (ECCP) was established in 1996 with initial and continuing funding support from the Tennessee Department of Mental Health. The Program addressed needs associated with serious behavioral, developmental, and environmental barriers to effective learning. Special emphasis was placed on those children at imminent risk of being dismissed from their child care setting.
From 1996-99, the ECCP’s primary mission was to provide extended technical assistance and training services, typically over a two-three month period, to child care provider programs in Davidson County aimed at increasing their capacity to meet the needs of individual young children with challenging behavior. The ECCP also offered an array of additional services to day care centers and parents as needed including: program-wide teacher training, community workshop presentations, parenting support groups, community agency referrals, facilitation of effective working relationships between parents and program staff, and instruction on overall classroom management techniques.
In 1999, at the request of the TN Department of Mental Health, the ECCP expanded its primary mission to the development and dissemination of a variety of training and technical assistance service packages to staff and families associated with child care centers, Head Start programs, voluntary pre-K programs, and other early childhood education programs across the three Grand Regions of Tennessee. From 1999-2006 the ECCP provided child screening and targeted technical assistance services involving 3,840 children throughout the state. During the period from 1999-2010 the ECCP provided training services to 5,130 staff and family members working directly with an additional 64,200 children associated with 1,233 programs.
From 2001-2006, the ECCP served as one of seven consortium members in the United States funded by the National Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL). Dr. Matt Timm, Tennessee Voices for Children, served as a senior faculty member of the Center and Dianne Oyama Dixon, Tennessee Voices for Children, served as a training and technical assistance staff member.
From 2006-2010, the ECCP continued to provide statewide training and technical assistance services utilizing the Pyramid Model approach developed by the National CSEFEL including active participation in the development and implementation of the CSEFEL/Team TN State Partnership Initiative, one of 11 such initiatives in the United States. Dr. Matt Timm, Tennessee Voices for Children continued to serve as a senior faculty member of the Center during this time.
Early Childhood Intervention Study
Dr. Matt Timm – Program Coordinator
The Early Childhood Intervention Study was a multi-component collaborative effort sponsored by Tennessee Voices for Children, the Regional Intervention Program Advisory Committee, Inc., and the University of Colorado at Denver, with funding provided by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, Research to Practice and the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities. The initial three-year project (1997-2000) was designed to evaluate treatment outcomes for a selected sample of some 200 children and families who have participated in the Regional Intervention Program (RIP) network since 1969. The first set of findings from the Early Childhood Intervention Study have been reported in P.S. Strain and M.A. Timm (2001), Remediation and prevention of aggression: An evaluation of the Regional Intervention Program over a quarter century. Behavioral Disorders, 26, 297-313.
A second three-year phase (2000-2003), funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, Research to Practice was designed to replicate the initial study with a selected sample of some 150 children and families who have participated in three selected Regional Intervention Program (RIP) sites in Tennessee (Columbia, Murfreesboro, Knoxville) since 1975.
A third three-year phase (2004-2007), also funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, Research to Practice, addressed key environmental events and responses to these events that enabled RIP programs to sustain themselves for periods ranging from 7 to 34 years. Eleven (11) programs that implemented RIP’s core innovative and research-based practices for remediating aggression in young children with Serious Emotional Disturbance were examined in a multiple case study format.
Founded in 1969, RIP is an internationally recognized parent-implemented model for the treatment of families of young children with behavioral disorders and/or developmental delays. RIP has been featured in over 90 books, journal articles, and presentations to national and international conferences. Since 1974, 31 certified RIP programs have been established in 24 communities in Tennessee, Kentucky, Connecticut, Ohio, Washington, Canada, Brazil, and Venezuela. In October, 2001, RIP received the prestigious Innovative Program of the Year Award at the 13th International CHADD Conference (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder).
The National Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL): Part I
Dr. Matt Timm – Program Coordinator
The National Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL): Part I was a consortium of organizations mandated to validate best practices for the social and emotional development of young children, develop training and technical assistance materials based on the identified practices, strengthen the capacity of Child Care and Head Start systems to use the practices at the local level, and disseminate the Center’s information and materials throughout the early childhood community. The five year effort (2001-2006) funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Head Start Bureau and Child Care Bureau was based at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and Vanderbilt University. Other consortium members were the University of Connecticut at Storrs; the Education Development Corporation, Boston, MA; the University of South Florida at Tampa; Tennessee Voices for Children, Nashville, TN; and the University of Colorado at Denver. The National Head Start Association (NHSA), The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), The Division for Early Childhood (DEC) of the Council for Exceptional Children, and the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (NACCRRA) served as primary partners. Dr. Matt Timm, Tennessee Voices for Children, served as a senior faculty member of the Center and Dianne Oyama Dixon, Tennessee Voices for Children, served as a training and technical assistance staff member.
The goals and activities of the Center were designed to strengthen the capacity of childcare agencies and Head Start to improve outcomes for young children and their families through: a) a focus on promoting the social emotional development of children as a means for preventing challenging behaviors, b) a comprehensive, culturally sensitive approach that is inclusive of and responsive to the needs of programs, families, other professionals, and communities, c) the dissemination of evidence-based practices: d) the ongoing identification of the training needs and preferred delivery formats of local programs and training and technical assistance providers, and e) collaboration with existing training and technical assistance providers for the purpose of ensuring the implementation and sustainability of practices at the local level.
Key activities included: a) literature reviews of evidence-based practices, b) what works: briefs on evidence-based practices, c) ongoing identification of training needs of Head Start and childcare providers and training and technical assistance providers, d) development of training materials on evidence based practices, e) establishment of Partners in Excellence; in which Head Start and childcare training and technical assistance providers work with the Center faculty to assist local programs in implementing evidence-based practices, f) creation of Center fellowships in which professionals from Head Start and childcare (either direct service providers or training and technical assistance providers) are recruited into graduate programs at one of the participating universities to earn a degree and to work on the proposed project, and g) establishment of partnerships with major professional organizations to ensure the widespread dissemination of the information developed by the Center.
Effective October 1, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Head Start and Office of Child Care provided a new five-year grant (2006-2011) for The National Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL): Part II for sustained operation and expansion. Dr. Matt Timm, Tennessee Voices for Children, continues to serve as a senior faculty member of the Center and TVC’s Early Childhood Programs are key participants in the CSEFEL/Team Tennessee State Partnership Initiative. http://csefel.vanderbilt.edu/
The Center for Evidence-Based Practice: Young Children with Challenging Behavior
Dr. Matt Timm – Program Coordinator
The Center for Evidence-Based Practice: Young Children with Challenging Behavior was a national collaboration of researchers and organizations committed to the development, dissemination, and utilization of practical knowledge related to the effective intervention and prevention of the challenging behaviors of young children. The five year grant award (2002-2006) from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs was co-directed by the University of South Florida and the University of Colorado at Denver. Additional participating sites included the University of Kansas, the University of Illinois, the University of Florida, Tennessee Voices for Children, Lehigh University, and Pyramid Parent Training of New Orleans. Collaborating organizations included the Division for Early Childhood of the Council for Exceptional Children (DEC), the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the National Head Start Association (NHSA), and the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (NACCRRA). Dr. Matt Timm, Tennessee Voices for Children, served as a senior faculty member of the Center.
The overall goals of the Center were to raise the level of awareness and implementation of positive, evidence-based practices, and to build an enhanced and more accessible data base supporting those practices. To accomplish these goals, the Center: (1) engaged in a comprehensive, collaborative, and multi-disciplinary process for identifying evidence-based practices, (2) developed partnerships with national early childhood organizations and multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural dissemination networks to ensure a widespread campaign of awareness and systems enhancement, (3) developed materials and implementation strategies to impact personnel preparation at the pre-service and in-service level, (4) developed a collaborative research agenda with ongoing input from consumers and families, and (5) implemented a national program of research designed to address critical issues for young children and families affected by challenging behaviors.
Beginning January, 2004, the Center engaged in a three-year multi-site longitudinal research study on young children with challenging behavior. The purpose of Project K.I.D.S. (Kids in Development Study) was to provide descriptive information regarding the development of challenging behaviors in young children and the environmental factors that influence these behaviors. Participating sites were Lehigh University, Tennessee Voices for Children (in collaboration with the Regional Intervention Program-RIP), Pyramid Parent Training-New Orleans, University of Colorado-Denver, University of Florida-Gainesville, University of Kansas and University of South Florida. Primary participants were families with young children who have already been identified as having challenging behavior or who are at substantial risk for having challenging behavior. A total of 244 families took part in the study. Secondary participants were teachers and associated personnel providing childcare, early education, and kindergarten services to enrolled children.
On January 1, 2008, funded by a new five-year grant (2008-2013) from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, The Center for Evidence-Based Practice: Young Children with Challenging Behavior (CEBP) became the Technical Assistance Center on Social Emotional Intervention for Young Children, or TACSEI. TACSEI continues and expands of the work of CEBP by moving the extensive research CEBP conducted and synthesized on effective practices into actual, everyday practice. http://www.challengingbehavior.org/index.htm
Nashville SEES (Nashville Supports Early Education Staff)
Mamie McKenzie – Program Supervisor
Bonny Logan – Program Coordinator
Nashville SEES developed as an initiative of the Tennessee chapter of Stand for Children with Tennessee Voices for Children as administrative sponsor pending completion of the IRS 501(c)(3) or 501 (c)(4) application process. The program addressed the critically important need for a pool of quality, full-time substitute teachers available to child care providers in the greater Nashville community. Supported by matching grants from the Tennessee Child Care Facilities Corporation and the Metropolitan Government of Nashville-Davidson County and by revenue from client centers, Nashville SEES provided 2,579 days of substitute teacher services for 32,624 children enrolled at 65 child care centers during the period from October 1, 2003 through June, 2005.
Better Together: The School Readiness Collaborative
Dr. Matt Timm – Program Co-Director
Mamie McKenzie – Program Co-Coordinator
- Tennessee Voices for Children (Co-Lead Agency)
- Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt
- Books From Birth of Middle Tennessee (Co-Lead Agency)
- First Steps, Inc.
- The Arc of Davidson County
Established in July 2008 with funds provided by United Way of Metropolitan Nashville, Better Together: The School Readiness Collaborative addressed school readiness needs of young children, ages 6 weeks to five years, at considerable risk for school failure due to the effects of poverty, developmental disability and/or limited English language proficiency. The program was based on the integrated roles of early language and literacy development, early social-emotional development and naturally occurring caregiver-child interactions as crucial factors in preparing children for school success.
The Better Together collaborative was composed of four core agencies and 92 community partner agencies in Davidson County and Middle Tennessee. From July, 2008 to June 2010, with continuing support from United Way of Metropolitan Nashville and added support from the Early Childhood Consulting Program and the Tennessee Parent Information and Resource Center (TPIRC) of Tennessee Voices for Children, Better Together provided information and tools to parents and caregivers for use in everyday activities to strengthen the language and literacy and social-emotional school readiness skills of their young children. Program services were offered through partner agencies that serve at-risk children in Davidson County, thereby reaching significantly more children and caregivers in a shorter period of time than would be possible otherwise. A total of 695 parents and caregivers (59% income-eligible) participated in 92 group training sessions and an additional 210 parents and caregivers (98.5% income-eligible) participated in ongoing home-based training sessions.
Core services for enrolled parents and caregivers were: 1) Monthly mailings of age-appropriate books to each eligible child until age five without cost to the family through the Imagination Library program of Books From Birth of Middle Tennessee; 2) Two 1.5 hour Family Literacy Sessions (“Language is the Key” and “Feelings Make the Difference”) presented 4-6 weeks apart at community partner agency locations and select home settings with focus on use of Family Tool Kit materials and teaching strategies; 3) Ongoing Caregiver to Caregiver support group meetings at community partner agency locations.
Tennessee Respite Network
Laura Fair, Program Coordinator
The Tennessee Respite Network (TRN) was a program which encompassed a respite information and referral line as well as a respite program. The Planned Respite for Families Program (PRFP) enabled hundred of caregivers across the state to access the short term break they needed from caring for their child with a mental health diagnosis. In the program’s last year of operation, more than 25 families benefited with more than $12,500 in funds to pay for respite services. Nine children also had the opportunity to go to the YMCA’s Camp Widjiwagan. Through the respite information and referral line, hundreds of caregivers across the state were provided information and referral to local respite programs in their area. As a result of the assistance of this program, more than 95% of the families involved never had any contact with the Department of Children’s Services.
Jerry Watson, Program Coordinator
Natasha Bryson, Program Supervisor
Funding for JustCare 180 was provided by the Memphis City Council through the Memphis-Shelby County Crime Commission. Under its strategic initiative to reduce crime in Memphis & Shelby County was called Operation: Safe Community. The JC 180 program was implemented by Tennessee Voices for Children in partnership with the Southeast Memphis Community Development Corporation and LeMoyne-Owen College Community Development Corporation. The referrals for JC 180 came directly from Memphis-Shelby County Juvenile Court. The key success measure of JC180 was to reduce repeat unruly and delinquent offenses or recidivism. The goal was to not just merely stop youth from committing crimes, but to help them to become successful in their families, schools and communities. The JustCare 180 successfully achieved its mission of building healthy youth, supporting strong families and developing safer communities, resulting in a 90% success rate (only 10% recidivism). JustCare 180 helped youth and their families turn their lives around by 180 degrees. The collaborative and innovative efforts of JC 180 not only brought juvenile crime rates down, but also helped youth and families build bridges and assets leading to healthy development.
The Nashville Connection
The Nashville Connection, a five year grant, was designed specifically to help children diagnosed with a “Serious Emotional Disturbance” (SED) and their families navigate their community’s system and to help them lead healthier, more productive lives. The Nashville Connection was a unique program which built on the concept that first-hand experience is the best preparation for helping others. This innovative concept introduced parents of children with SEDs as Family Service Coordinators (FSC). The role of the FSC was to build a relationship with the family. They understand the frustration a family feels when trying to access services for their child. They understand a family’s need to be included in decisions concerning their child and family. They understand the feeling of isolation that comes with the stigma of having a child with SED. These FSC’s were parents who have successfully navigated the system with their own families. They were ready and willing to help caregivers learn to advocate navigate and build their own system of care for their child. Partners for The Nashville Connection were Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities, Centerstone Medical Health Centers, Vanderbilt Institute for Public Policy, Department of Children’s Services, Office of the Governor, TCCY, Juvenile Court, Metro Schools, and Davidson County Schools.
Youth In Action
Youth in Action (YIA) Councils are an effective way to infuse youth voice into the community, build resiliency and offer opportunities for youth to become leaders among their peers. The Currently TVC facilitates several Youth In Action Councils in the state: Memphis, Jackson, Columbia, Mt. Pleasant, Nashville, and Knoxville. The Councils are comprised of groups of middle school-, high school-, and transition-aged youth with emotional, behavioral and mental health disorders, their siblings and their closest peers. They work to erase the stigma associated with mental health disorders in their schools and communities through education and community involvement. Their message is “My diagnosis does not define me,” and they seek to educate others on mental health and well being. Although not a support group, the Councils are supportive groups in which youth who often feel left out in other groups are welcomed and respected for their strengths and individuality. Entirely youth-led and supported by a Youth Coordinator/Youth Engagement Specialist, most Councils meet monthly or bimonthly and have yearly goals that include community projects but also fun and team building activities. The Council members travel to conferences ot enhance their skills, make presentations or hold workshops, win awards for their community work, create anti-stigma materials, and reach out to both peers and professionals through many venues.
FSPs in the Juvenile Courts
The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Forensic division, was awarded a TTI grant in 2010 to develop a way to assess the needs of youth encountering the juvenile justice system. In partnership with the Administrative Office of the Courts, the TN Department of Children’s Services (Juvenile Justice division) Vanderbilt Behavioral Health, and a number of juvenile courts across the state, TDMHSAS was able to train court staff in the use of an abbreviated version of the CANS (Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths) tool. Based on the CANS screening, court staff are able to make referrals for appropriate services for youth and their families. Three of these courts also had access to a Family Support Provider (FSP) through TVC; court staff identify the families that would benefit from family support services and make a direct referral to TVC.
These FSPs in the Courts had the following goals:
- Assist children alleged to be delinquent or unruly and their families in accessing and participating in mental health, substance abuse and related support services when referred to services following a mental health and substance abuse screening conducted by the Juvenile Court Youth Service Officer or other juvenile court staff;
- Assist children alleged to be delinquent or unruly and their families to access needed services identified with the assistance of a mental health and substance abuse screening conducted by the Juvenile Court Youth Service Officer or other juvenile court staff, thereby reducing recidivism and increasing diversion of children from the juvenile justice system.
K-Town Youth Empowerment Network
K-Town Youth Empowerment Network was a community partnership of local agencies, schools, faith-based organizations, government, businesses, youth leaders, and families working together to provide a “System of Care” for Knox County, Tennessee, youth ages 14-21 with serious emotional and behavioral challenges, and their families. If a young person has needs that touch more than one system–such as mental health, juvenile justice, special education, or child welfare–searching for help can seem like wandering through a maze of wrong doors and hidden barriers. Systems of Care help youth and their families navigate the maze.
K-Town Youth Empowerment Network was supported by a six-year, $9 million grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Centers for Mental Health Services. K-Town is a partnership of Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Tennessee Voices for Children, Helen Ross McNabb Center, and Centerstone Research Institute, together with dozens of local community partners. More than 40 Knox County organizations, along with family advocates and youth leaders joined together to create a more coordinated, integrated network of services and supports.
As of October 1, 2015, the K-Town initiative was approved for a No Cost Extension to its current federal funding, and will no longer provide direct services to individual youth and families. For the next 12 months, K-Town staff continued to work with the Steering Committee of organizations, youth and families to lay the framework for System of Care sustainability in Knox County. These efforts will focus on assessing service needs in the community, assisting with local organizational development, participating in strategic planning to ensure local community engagement in sustainability efforts, and timely implementation and achievement of grant goals and objectives.
Youth M.O.V.E. Tennessee
The System of Care Expansion grant provided by the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) funded the Youth M.O.V.E. (Motivating Others through Voices of Experience) Tennessee program. Youth M.O.V.E. Tennessee was a chapter of Youth M.O.V.E. National, a youth-led national organization devoted to improving services and systems that support growth and development by uniting the voices of individuals who have lived experience in various systems including mental health, juvenile justice, education, and child welfare.
Youth M.O.V.E. Tennessee consisted of multiple councils made up of middle and high school students in Hickman, Rutherford, or Williamson county that worked together to stomp out the stigma of mental health and raise awareness around youth issues. Councils consisted of both students who do and do not have mental health diagnoses. The councils advocated for youth rights and voice in mental health and the other systems that serve youth, for the purpose of empowering youth to be equal partners in the process of change. TVC’s Statewide Youth M.O.V.E. staff worked together as coaches and mentors for youth councils by assisting in program development, activity planning, advocacy training, and mental health case management.
Objectives of the program:
- Assisted in developing the youth leadership program at meetings
- United the voices and causes of youth
- Acted as consultants to youth, providers, families, and other supportive adults
- Provided national leadership representing youth who are served by mental health systems and other youth-serving systems
- Coached others about authentic youth involvement
Early Connections Network
The Early Connections Network (ECN) was a mental health initiative in Tennessee that included Cheatham, Robertson, Sumner, Montgomery and Dickson counties. The ECN developed a comprehensive System of Care (SOC) for children ages 0-5 with early childhood mental health needs and their families. The ECN sought to transform traditional approaches to mental health care through the delivery of services that are community-based, family-driven and culturally and linguistically competent. Using trained local parent caregivers as care coordinators in collaboration with early childhood specialists, the ECN serrved a minimum of 400 unduplicated young children and their families. Special attention was given to the children and families of military service members as the Mid-Cumberland region included active military, reserve and National Guard units.
The ECN sought to achieve the following goals: (1) establish a comprehensive, sustainable SOC with a reliable infrastructure for young children ages 0-5 and their families; (2) reduce stigma and increase community awareness about early childhood mental health needs and the importance of responding to their needs early and effectively; (3) improve outcomes for young children 0-5 who have significant behavioral or relational symptoms related to trauma, parent/child interaction difficulties or impaired social emotional development; (4) provide statewide training and local coaching for providers, families, and community members regarding evidence-based practices for effectively treating early childhood mental health and social emotional needs; and (5) develop a seamless early childhood SOC using a public health model for replication in other areas of the state.
The ECN was administered through the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and operated locally through the Department’s Division of Special Populations, Tennessee Voices for Children, Centerstone Community Mental Health Center and Centerstone Research Institute. The mission of the ECN was to develop a service infrastructure that will give caregivers, providers, educators, community members, and others the essential knowledge, skills, resources and support they need to respond effectively to the social, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral needs of young children and their families.
Each partner played an integral role in Tennessee’s federally funded SOC grants to date, and together they established a successful collaborative track record of administering community-based programs. This network’s design built upon effective although currently fragmented initiatives already in place for young children ages 0-5 and their families. A SOC that unifies families, caregivers, teachers, providers, new partners, and natural supports in the promotion of healthy development can exponentially strengthen community-based, family-driven and culturally and linguistically competent efforts to prepare our children for school and for life.