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The role of infant and early childhood mental health consultation in reducing racial and gender relational and discipline disparities between Black and white preschoolers


This study presents findings from an Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (IECMHC) initiative in Arizona called Smart Support. The IECMHC used an early childhood mental health consultation model as an early childhood education intervention to address the needs of preschoolers with challenging behaviors. Disparities in teacher‐child relationships and discipline are some of the most persistent racial disparities impacting young Black children. The goal of IECMHC is to facilitate teachers' skills to respond to challenging child behavior and to shift teachers' internal representations of young children. This study is one of the first to link a statewide IECMHC intervention to the analysis of racial and gender teacher‐child relational and discipline disparities. Multilevel growth analyses examined whether child scores at baseline and growth over time differed as a function of child race and gender. At baseline, Black children, compared to white peers, and Black boys, compared to white boys, had higher teacher‐child conflict scores. These scores decreased more strongly over the course of IECMHC such that Black children's outcomes surpassed those of white peers by the end of consultation. A trend was also seen for the reduction of Black boys' preschool expulsion risk, although this trend was only marginally significant. (author abstract)

Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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