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Local organization lands $1 million to aid early childhood mental health

The Daily Item - 9/20/2023

Sep. 20—The Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, which serves Lynn, Lynnfield, Marblehead, Nahant, Peabody, Saugus, Swampscott, and numerous other communities statewide, landed a nearly $1 million grant as part of the Healey-Driscoll administration's Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation grants.

In all, the state poured $4.1 million into the program, spread across six organizations that "serve early-education programs by training providers and improving program processes to promote the developmental, social-emotional, and behavioral wellbeing of infants and young children in their care." The society secured $953,221.

The society, a nonprofit organization founded in 1878, says it focuses on the needs of both children and parents to prevent child abuse as it works to promote and protect their rights and wellbeing.

"We know the best way to keep children safe and healthy is to promote nurturing, stable environments for children, prevent adverse childhood experiences, and intervene when trauma occurs," the organization's website reads. "We work with one child, one family at a time, and strive to advance our mission through advocacy."

In a statement, Gov. Maura Healey said the money will be used to address the growing mental-health crisis in the state exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which hit children particularly hard.

Specifically, the statement points to reducing the suspension and expulsion rate in early-education and care settings, and promoting school success, community health, and the healthy development of students.

"Our administration is continuing to help break down the stigma behind seeking treatment while ensuring that Massachusetts residents know how they can access the health care and support they deserve — no matter how small," Healey said. "These grants will provide early-education and care programs with the tools and resources needed to help educators identify kids struggling and support families in accessing help."

Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll added that the money will allow early educators access to resources they need to ensure young children can learn about and manage their feelings and foster environments conducive to supporting healthy social and emotional development in and out of school.

Secretary of Education Patrick Tutwiler, the former superintendent of Lynn Public Schools, said the money supports the critical infrastructure that comprises mental-health services for young children.

"The path to wellbeing and stability is a slow one, but with this funding, we will make inroads in our pursuit to improve mental health for all of our students," Tutwiler said.


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