The CASA Head Start partnership began in 1996 with funding from the Capital Health Authority (now Alberta Health Services) to offer on-site mental health consultation and support at 11 Head Start programs in Edmonton.
The purpose of the partnership was two-fold: to improve the accessibility of mental health services for economically disadvantaged families, and to improve service coordination. Since its introduction, the partnership has demonstrated its value and, with additional funding from the Early Childhood Development Initiative, expanded to include 18 Head Start programs. Two of the new sites operate programs for First Nations.
While there have been several modifications to how things are done, the core services continue to include the following:
- screening, assessment and diagnosis of mental health issues and needs
- support to the Head Start program staff in planning and developing appropriate plans and strategies for children with mental health issues
- extensive observation of children and support to parents
- education and training of parents and Head Start staff upon request
- case consultation and conferencing
- referral to clinical services when indicated