Colorado is a national leader in prioritizing early childhood mental health (ECMH). A strong commitment to this work across public and private sectors allows communities to develop highly effective programs that support families with young children. This timeline highlights many of Colorado’s ECMH achievements since 2001.

Colorado Association for Infant Mental Health (CoAIMH) founded

CoAIMH, a statewide nonprofit membership organization, promotes education and research related to infant and early childhood mental health (ECMH).

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Colorado Project BLOOM initiated

With federal funding for local systems-building, the state initiated Project BLOOM, a first-in-the-nation effort in four Colorado communities. Several improvements emerged: diagnostic training, the introduction of mental health consultation, professional competencies, and care coordination and integration.

Blue Ribbon Policy Council for ECMH formed

A collaboration of three major early childhood initiatives and the Division of Behavioral Health focused on comprehensive system building and developed a strategic plan in 2008.

Pyramid Model for Supporting Social-Emotional Competencies in Infants and Young Children adopted in Colorado

With federal funding, the University of Colorado established the Colorado Pyramid Center. The Pyramid Model is a framework of evidence-based practices for promoting young children’s healthy social and emotional development. In 2020, the Colorado Pyramid Plus Center transitioned to Healthy Child Care Colorado with support from the Buell Foundation.

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Colorado’s ECMH Strategic Plan is adopted

This plan, created by the Blue Ribbon Council for ECMH, continues to serve as a roadmap for policies that support the social-emotional well-being of children and their families.

Weld County Project LAUNCH

Weld County was awarded a Project LAUNCH grant from SAMSHA to infuse mental health supports into programs serving young children and their families, as well as improve coordination across local organizations.

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Infant Mental Health Competencies & Endorsement adopted

Administered by CoAIMH, this endorsement is one of the first and most comprehensive national efforts to build knowledge and skills across many disciplines.

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Colorado Early Learning & Development Guidelines (ELDGs) created

The ELDGs provide practical tips and points of reference to help all children grow physically, intellectually, and emotionally.

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ECMH Environmental Scan completed

Rose Community Foundation and Caring for Colorado publish “Early Childhood Mental Health in Colorado: An Environmental Scan of Challenges, Progress, and Recommendations for the Social and Emotional Health of Colorado’s Children.”

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Colorado Project LAUNCH begins

Funded by SAMHSA, Colorado Project LAUNCH was led by the OEC in and CDPHE. Early Childhood Partnership of Adams County was selected as the local implementation community. The effort worked to increase quality and availability of evidence-based programs for children and families, improve collaboration among child-serving organizations, and integrate physical and behavioral health services and supports.

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State Innovations Model (SIM) grant awarded

The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Innovation awarded Colorado up to $65 million to test its State Innovation Model (SIM). The goal for Colorado’s SIM was to integrate physical and behavioral health care services in coordinated community systems, with value-based payment structures, for 80% of state residents.

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Early Childhood Screening & Referral Policy Council created

Supported by CDPHE, the Council’s goal is to unify appropriate public and private state leaders to identify and implement policy and system changes that ensure all young children receive appropriate developmental screening, and if needed, referral and access to appropriate services.

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Young Minds Matter roadmap published

The Colorado Children’s Campaign, Children’s Hospital Colorado, and the Colorado Children’s Healthcare Access Program released a roadmap for strengthening mental health services for children in Colorado.

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LAUNCH Together initiative began

This initiative was a unique partnership between Early Milestones, eight Colorado-based foundations, the Butler Institute for Families, and communities throughout Colorado. Partners worked to improve social-emotional and developmental outcomes for Colorado’s young children and families, support system-level collaboration, and reduce mental health disparities among vulnerable populations.

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Maternal Mental Health Framework created

A group of public health, health care, academic research, and community leaders developed a guiding framework for all Coloradans to support improved maternal mental health. This framework is designed to strengthen the case for funding for perinatal mental health, inform policy efforts, guide tracking of outcomes, and streamline stakeholder efforts.

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Colorado Health Institute (CHI) publishes “Risk, Reach, and Resources”

This report, commissioned by the OEC and conducted by CHI, researched and analyzed more than a dozen initiatives, programs and organizations promoting ECMH across Colorado and compared those efforts with the risks they were mitigating (i.e., poverty and maternal depression) to identify gaps and opportunities.

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Colorado receives funding through the Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five

A $5.8 million initial PDG B-5 grant allowed for completion of the Colorado Shines Brighter statewide needs assessment and strategic plan. The state received further funding in 2019 for implementation of the strategic plan. The plan includes multiple elements related to the integration and strengthening of ECMH within Colorado’s early child care system.

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Mental Health Colorado creates ECMH Toolkit

This toolkit was to help families, community advocates, Early Childhood Councils, early childhood professionals, and local leaders evaluate and fund ECMH supports.

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Children’s Subcommittee of Colorado Behavioral Health Task Force created

The mission of the overall task force was to evaluate and set the roadmap to improve the state’s behavioral health system. One of three subcommittees of the Task Force, the Children’s Behavioral Health subcommittee was charged with improving outcomes by developing a plan to address delivery and management of children’s behavioral health.

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Colorado Partnership for Thriving Families formed

Colorado was selected to participate in a national effort to rethink child welfare by creating the conditions for strong, thriving families where children are free from harm. The Partnership is focusing on three key priority areas: 1) aligning funding streams, programs, and outcomes within state systems; 2) strengthening services and support throughout pregnancy and the first year of parenting; and 3) changing community norms to increase social connections and community support for families.

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Behavioral Health Blueprint published

After more than a year of research and convening, the Behavioral Health Task Force released a Blueprint that outlines a vision for reform in Colorado.

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HB 20-1053: Codification of OEC’s ECMH Consultation Program passes

This measure codifies the ECMH Consultation Program within OEC and requires the program to develop a consultation model with standards and guidelines for practice.

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HB 21-1097: Establishment of Behavioral Health Administration passes

This legislation addresses multiple recommendations included in the Behavioral Health Blueprint related to the creation of a behavioral health administration (BHA). The BHA will be a single state agency to lead, promote, and administer the state’s behavioral health priorities.

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Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Network Hub in development

Funded by stakeholder organizations, the Network Hub will serve as a community of practice for consultants across the field. Once complete, the Network Hub will improve coordination, professional development, and technical assistance to consultants working within a variety of settings, including early care and education, home visiting, and primary care.

HB 21-1258: Rapid Mental Health Response for Colorado Youth introduced

Introduced with bipartisan support, this bill would offer a free mental health assessment and as many as three mental health sessions with a licensed professional for all children under 18, which the state would pay for. These services would also be offered to people 21 and younger who are enrolled in special education classes.

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