Profile of the Week: Montana Project LAUNCH

Montana Project LAUNCH

Montana Project LAUNCH promotes prevention strategies to improve outcomes for the social-emotional wellness of children ages birth to 8. By strengthening partnerships, growing resources, developing workforce skills, implementing screening, and improving the referral process, Project LAUNCH strives to create more streamlined and effective support for young children and their families.

This project serves families of pregnant women and children ages birth to 8 in Gallatin and Park counties and aims to scale up services throughout the state.

The partners of this project are either members of the Gallatin Early Childhood Community Council or the Park County Early Childhood Coalition, which are voluntary councils of community members interested in progressing topics related to early childhood. Agency decision makers regularly meet to focus on early childhood social-emotional issues and to strengthen networks for families. The initiative also has a partnership with higher education to address workforce development challenges.

Child with truck

Major partners and funders of Project LAUNCH include SAMHSA, Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, Bozeman Health, Child Care Connections, Community Health Partners, Gallatin City-County Health Department, Greater Gallatin United Way, Park County Community Foundation, and Park County Health Department.

Montana Project LAUNCH has meaningful inter-agency collaboration that allows families to access resources efficiently. It also allows for a diverse workforce knowledge about early childhood mental health and for a community focus on social-emotional health of young children and their families. Specific initiatives of this program include on-site coaching and consultation for early care and education providers, an embedded mental health professional in a pediatric clinic, and burnout prevention for home visitors.

This success is from a community needs assessment in Gallatin county that provided data for a SAMHSA grant. The partners and councils developed a living strategic plan that commits to initiatives and goals but allows flexibility to respond to new needs. The Montana State University evaluation team provided a large amount of data for the program. The success of this program is dependent on relationships and encourages cross-sector collaboration.

Advice from Sarah Webb, the Young Child Wellness Coordinator of Gallatin City-County Health Department, is to, “Create a vision and strategic plan as a group, dedicate staff to focus on effort, identify champions early and capitalize on those who are most passionate and creative, know how your partners operate, learn each other’s language, and be on the lookout for creative strategies outside of your field of work.”

For more information on Montana Project LAUNCH, contact Darla Dexter at (406)444-6956 or Theresa Lee at (406)444-9812. You can also visit their website at https://dphhs.mt.gov/hcsd/childcare/montanaprojectlaunch.

Evidence-Based Resources

Social-emotional wellness in early childhood is important for children to develop important life-long skills. These skills affect how children view themselves, others, challenges, and choices. These children are typically capable of forming close,secure, and meaningful relationships as well as experience, regulate, and express emotions. They are able to explore the environment and learn new skills. Children who have the support to develop these skills tend to be happier, get along with others better, and accomplish more. If children do not receive this support, they are at higher risk of behavioral issues, poor self-image, bullying, poor academic performance, and destructive behavior among other issues.

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