Current Projects

The Early Childhood Division is involved in a wide variety of programs in partnership with both private and governmental institutions. Current projects of the division include:

Bright Beginnings


Bright BeginningsBright Beginnings, Inc, is a Head Start/Early Head Start that serves families who are homeless. The Early Childhood Division of the GUCCHD has provided on-site, weekly support to the program since 1993. Bright Beginning is dedicated to meeting the immediate needs of children and families living in homeless environments by:

Consultants for the program are Dr. Diane Jacobstein, a psychologist who serves as an Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant and Dr. Rachel Brady, a physical therapist, who serves as an Inclusion Specialist. 

A family homelessness research team also offers Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction to mothers of young children in DC’s largest shelter, DC General, as part of a research initiative seeking to find ways to support families in shelter.

Read more at Bright Beginnings.

Center of Excellence for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation


SAMSHAThe National Center of Excellence for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (Center for Excellence) is a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) funded project in partnership between the GUCCHD and the Education Development Center, Inc. in Massachusetts. 

Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation is an intervention that builds the capacity of teachers, home visitors and parents to address challenging behaviors and promote social-emotional development.

Launched in October 2015, the Center of Excellence’s objectives are:

For more information, visit the SAMHSA blog.

Comprehensive System of Personnel Development

Every state has an early intervention program to provide infants, toddlers and young children with developmental delays and disabilities and their families with supports and services to promote the best possible development and participate in their home, school and community lives.  Under Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA),  states are required to have a system to ensure that families receive high quality services called the Comprehensive System of Personnel Development (CSPD).

Strong Start is the District of Columbia’s Early Intervention Program. It is a statewide, comprehensive, coordinated, multi-disciplinary system that provides early intervention therapeutic and other services for infants and toddlers with disabilities and developmental delays and their families.

The Early Childhood division at the GUCCHD has provided the functions of the District of Columbia’s CSPD program. We do this through a variety of activities including collaborating with Strong Start to understand training needs, provide expert and relevant training in a variety of formats and create and disseminate information on contemporary practice to providers and families. A sample of current activities includes:

More information can be found here. You may also visit the Strong Start page.


DC Early Childhood Needs Assessment

The District of Columbia Department of Health (DOH) in partnership with the Early Childhood Division of the GUCCHD will conduct a needs assessment study for the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV). Together with the Georgetown University Department of Psychiatry and the Children’s National Medical Center, the study shall synthesize existing data, identify gaps and services and make recommendations for early childhood systems development with a particular focus on home visiting.


DC Early Childhood Innovation Network

A new Early Childhood Innovation Network (ECIN) shall be launched this year due to a $6 million grant and five-year commitment from the J. Willard and Alice Marriott Foundation. Dr. Matthew Biel, chief of adolescent and child psychiatry at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital will co-lead the network together with Dr. Lee Beers of the Children’s National Health System.

The goal of the ECIN is to eliminate or decrease the impacts of toxic stress on young children in the District. Toxic stress refers to sustained exposure to extreme stress early in life which is linked to an onset of significant problems including addiction, depression, obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and premature mortality. The network’s objective is to provide a comprehensive approach to early intervention in order to help transform the lives of young children in the District of Columbia. The early childhood division of the GUCCHD is involved as faculty and as part of the steering committee.


DC Home Visiting Program


DC DOHGUCCHD has been partnering with the District of Columbia Department of Health (DOH) to evaluate their Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program since 2012. DOH is supporting several community agencies to implement Evidence Based Home Visiting models to serve pregnant women, mothers and young children in vulnerable communities in the District.

The Early Childhood division has engaged in numerous evaluation efforts designed to understand all aspects of the MIECHV funded programs. The Home Visiting program uses a community based participatory approach engaging all the community groups implementing the program.

The Georgetown team has embarked on a parallel professional development endeavor to support the MIECHV efforts across the District. Following a foundational training program, the team currently hosts a Learning Community open to the entire home visiting community in the District. The team has also created Foundational Training online learning modules available here.


DC Promise Neighborhood Initiative


DCPNIThe Promise Neighborhood Initiative is a federally funded program aimed to ensure that children are able to complete their education from cradle to college in order that they may become successful adults. Specifically, the DC Promise Neighborhood Initiative (DCPNI) is a comprehensive, community based initiative aimed to end poverty and to improve the lives of all members of the District of Columbia’s Ward 7 Kenilworth-Parkside neighborhood. 

The Early Childhood Division at the GUCCHD has been working with the US Department of Education provides support to the education and learning portion of the work. The division conducts a monthly parent determined topical workshop from September to June for families of young children called “Parents Want to Know.” Topics have included talking to your doctor about developmental or behavioral concerns, managing challenging behavior and communicating with your children. 

More information can be found here.


Fight for Children Program


fight for childrenThe Adapting an Evidenced-Based Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Model (ECMHC) for DC Preschool and Pre-K Classrooms project is funded by Fight for Children. It adapts the ECMHC model developed by the GUCCHD over the last ten years for implementation in early childhood classrooms in DC public charter schools. Outcomes of the ECMHC model are related to teacher child interaction, supporting children’s social emotional support, child progress, and parent, teacher, and administrator experience.  This model is well aligned with the model being used by the DC Department of Behavioral Health in their Healthy Futures program and extends the ECMHC services beyond those currently offered by Healthy Futures in community child care programs to children in an elementary charter school setting, specifically at the Friendship Charter Chamberlain School. 

Launched in 2014,  the project provides a weekly on-site visitation by an Early Childhood Mental Health consultant from the GUCCHD early childhood division to the Friendship Chamberlain Public Charter School. The consultant provides consultation to six early childhood classroom teaching teams, the administration, and to parents. After the two-year pilot, the project will identify unique features of implementing an ECMHC model in a public charter school. Additionally, the project will result in a manualized approach to implementing ECMHC in a public charter school setting.  The manual will identify phases of consultation, describe types of consultation (i.e. classroom, programmatic, and child/family), and offer insightful examples highlighting key features of the consultation work. 


Head Start Program


Head Start is a Federal program in partnership with the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) to meet the needs of pre-school children aged between 3 to 5 years old with special needs or disabilities from low-income families.
Children who attend Head Start participate in a variety of educational activities. They also receive free medical and dental care, have healthy meals and snacks, and enjoy playing indoors and outdoors in a safe setting. Services are offered to meet needs of children with the special needs and disabilities and their families.
The Early Childhood division of the GUCCHD is part of a team of developmental specialists provides classroom and programmatic consultation as well as evaluation and intervention for individual children and their families.
Visit GUCCHD for more information.

Infant & Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation in Informal Childcare Settings


The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has recently awarded a grant to the GUCCHD Early Childhood Division to investigate social and emotional development in informal childcare settings in the country. The number of families using this option has increased since the 90s. Informal childcare refers to family-based childcare such as that provided by grandparents, other relatives or even friends and neighbors.

Launched in February 2016, the project is in partnership with the Indigo Cultural Center in Phoenix, Arizona with the principal objectives being:

This nationwide effort will develop a synthesis report on findings and lessons learned in order that informal childcare providers can have more access to early childcare mental health supports and service. The grant will convene a panel of experts to conduct a literature review of the kinds of supports available to informal childcare providers nationwide, develop a national scan of family, friend and neighbor childcare sites, and administer six informal childcare site visits. More information is available here.


Maryland Project LAUNCH


SAMHSALinking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children's Health (Project LAUNCH) is a program awarded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The purpose of the program is to promote wellness of young children from birth to aged 8 by addressing the physical, social, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral aspects of their development. The goal of the program is to provide children safe and supportive environments so they can enter school ready to learn and succeed.

Launched in September 2012, the Early Childhood Division at the GUCCHD in partnership with the University of Maryland School of Social Work is co-principal investigator and evaluator serving families and children in Prince George’s County in Maryland.

The program provides enhanced home visiting services, early childhood mental health consultation and family strengthening activities. More information can be found here.