Perspectives on Early Childhood Psychology and Education

Submission Type



Young children are at-risk for developing significant mental health difficulties just as their older, school-aged peers. Preschool settings have increasingly attempted to proactively address early childhood socioemotional needs by expanding their prevention and intervention activities. A number of emerging best practices in promoting early childhood mental health have been proposed. However, there are no comprehensive performance standards for preschool mental health and limited guidance on how preschools can align themselves with best practices. This expansion in service scope parallels the development of Comprehensive School Mental Health Systems in K-12 schools. Resources and tools developed for K-12 educational settings may serve as a useful example for preschool mental health systems interested in quality comprehensive mental health care. This conceptual article will describe the prevalence of mental health difficulties in young children, review the current guidance on supporting mental health in young children, and provide support for adapting widely used K-12 school mental health performance standards to establish comprehensive standards for organizing and implementing high quality care systems in preschool settings.