Who We Support
Infant Mental Health Program
Sunbeam Family Services
Award Date: October 18, 2016
Early intervention can change the odds for infants and toddlers, leading to significant cost savings over time through reductions in child abuse and neglect, school failure, criminal behaviors, welfare dependence, substance abuse as well as medical care for the chronic diseases, both mental and physical, that are common among adults who were maltreated as children.
The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study shows stressful or traumatic childhood experiences result in social, emotional and cognitive impairments. The study further demonstrates early stress as a strong factor in the development of many of the diseases Oklahomans face: cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, mental illness and Oklahoma’s high rate of drug and alcohol addictions. These issues are especially prevalent for children in foster care.
Sunbeam Family Services will immediately increase access to infant mental health services for central Oklahoma. A crucial component of this program includes an intentional focus on the child welfare and court systems to address the significant numbers of children ages 0-5 placed in foster care in Oklahoma County. A second component is the development of a workforce with expertise in infant mental health to address the unique health, developmental and attachment needs of infants and very young children, both within and outside of the child welfare system.