California’s children and families are under significant and escalating toxic stress, from both the COVID-19 pandemic and longstanding historical and systemic issues such as poverty, racism and other forms of community and individual trauma.
This moment in history could be pivotal in the landscape of California’s early childhood mental health. Conditions created by the pandemic, such as isolation, economic stress, and community trauma, are all proven to negatively impact a child’s ability to thrive. It is vitally important that young children and their parents and caregivers receive the interventions necessary to support their mental health during this critical time.
This report delves into the historical and escalating mental health needs of very young children, the current landscape, and the ways in which California, local agencies, and communities must bolster their support and resources in the wake of the pandemic and its potential impacts on child development. This paper focuses specifically on community-based programs in California supporting infants, toddlers, and preschoolers’ social-emotional health, as well as their goals, service models, and funding sources.