This post was written by Marjorie Withers from the Community Caring Collaborative’s Early Childhood Consultation and Outreach program in Washington County. This is s a part of the Maine Children’s Alliance’s series on early childhood social and emotional development in Maine.
The Community Caring Collaborative’s Early Childhood Consultation and Outreach (ECCO) program offers services to childcare providers, Head Start centers, pre-schools, early elementary classrooms, and in homes. ECCO is available to ANY child ages 0-8 who resides in Washington County, Maine at no cost. The service provides a trained consultant observing a child in their environment and working collaboratively with parents, staff, and providers to develop strategies and plans that support the child across environments.
What is ECCO?
ECCO is based on the Georgetown model of Mental Health Consultation. It builds on the strengths of each child and addresses barriers that may be keeping them from achieving their potential. It is interactive and supportive to the adults in the child’s environment offering them new skills to help children be successful. ECCO helps adults create environments that support emotional well-being, increase access to spoken and written language, as well as strengthening relationships which are vital for all children. Specifically it addresses regulatory issues and sensory issues to support the development of executive functioning. The result is an increased ability to learn and flourish in school and in life. ECCO offers educational training on trauma, toxic stress, impact of substance abuse and other topics of interest to public schools, child care programs, preschools, and other child-serving agencies at no cost
Why is ECCO important to Washington County?
Washington County has some troubling statistics that support the need for early intervention and access to professionals. It is one of the most rural counties in Maine, 26.2 percent of children under the age of 17 live in poverty. Addiction has been a major issue for Washington County. Our youngest generation has been adversely affected by exposure to substances, a high level of trauma and a paucity of helping professionals. Historically Washington County has had the highest rate of children dismissed from child care because of behavioral issues. Poverty and trauma with its corresponding high cortisol levels make it hard for many children to focus. Many of our children have regulatory and or sensory issues that hamper their ability in childcare, Head Start and school as well as in social situations
Successes of ECCO
ECCO is a vital resource for changing educational and emotional outcomes for young children. Utilizing best practice techniques in rural communities through its direct coaching services in learning environments and homes, ECCO is addressing unmet needs daily. Evaluation data collected over the past 7 years indicates that ECCO has been effective at helping children by increasing the skills and strategies of the adults in their lives. Teachers report improved behaviors and better learning outcomes and parents consistently see behavioral improvements through utilization of this strength based early intervention service.
- Cost effective and impactful
- Increases collaboration across agencies
- Appropriately accesses additional early intervention services when needed
- Creates an individualized comprehensive system of care for each child
- Increases ongoing communication between educational systems and local agencies resulting in a strengthened safety net for the child and for the family
ECCO is increasing hope by helping adults meet the needs of children and in return seeing more children blooming as it changes outcomes.