School districts are showing interest in children's cognitive development before age 5.
The Illinois Prairie Community Foundation Women to Women group has sponsored surveys of what early childhood intervention services are available—and what is not.
Lauren Neitzel and Aly Frantzen, first-year graduate students in social work at Illinois State University, will present their findings on early childhood intervention at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at the ISU Alumni Center.
Neitzel and Frantzen are focusing on cognitive, social and behavioral development in children. Neitzel said deploying early interventions before age 5 can save the government money in the long run because those children are less likely to end up relying on social safety net programs or going to prison.
Their talk will also focus on the need for more longitudinal studies that show these potential economic benefits.
“A lot of these children that need these early education intervention services are from low socioeconomic classes. So (is there some way to provide) economic compensation for the families and participants? We realize these longitudinal studies are harder to do, but they are very important,” explained Neitzel.
They also found an increase in mental health, behavorial and emotional disorders in schools, increasing the demand for more mobile social services—specifically for nontraditional mental health workers who can help children during out-of-school hours.
One challenge may be to find professionals willing to work those schedules. Another is funding.
"There needs to be more education about mental health and specifically early education intervention services because that is the way out," Neitzel said. "That is the way to provide children and opportunity to thrive and to be less likely to have these mental, emotional, behavioral disorders."
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