The health and prosperity of Oklahoma’s families and communities requires an investment in early experiences and supporting relationships between infants, toddlers and their caregivers and is a primary prevention strategy to paying for negative health and social outcomes later. The foundations of resilient Oklahomans beginning in the earliest years and continuing into adulthood can be strengthened by promising practices, both public and private, supported by development of strong policy. The Oklahoma Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Strategic Plan is focused on establishing a coordinated cost-effective services array that supports positive child and family outcomes while scaling back ineffective approaches not grounded in current early childhood science. The vision is that the social and emotional well-being of Oklahoma’s infants, toddlers and young children, their families and caregivers is fostered through the Early Childhood Mental Health System of Care that is collaborative, developmentally sensitive, relationship focused, trauma informed and spans the continuum of promotion, prevention and treatment.Oklahoma’s vision is coming to fruition, in part, through efforts in a few communities promoting young child wellness through Project LAUNCH (Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children’s Health), a federal initiative funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The goal is for all children to enter school with the social, emotional, cognitive and physical skills they need to succeed. Funding was awarded to Cherokee Nation, Muscogee Creek Nation and OSDH/Child Guidance. Over 5 years, the LAUNCH communities will increase the 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. Lessons learned from communities are guiding systems changes and policy improvements at the state, territorial and tribal levels. Strong It is anticipated that partnerships will lead to sustainability and replication of successful practices on a large scale and to systems improvements lasting beyond the grants. A core set of five prevention and promotion strategies drawn from current research will be implemented in each community. In addition to providing direct services, the LAUNCH communities are increasing knowledge about healthy child development through public education campaigns and cross-disciplinary workforce development.

LAUNCH’s Five Prevention and Promotion Strategies
Screening and assessment in a range of child-serving settings
Integration of behavioral health into primary care
Mental health consultation in early care and education
Enhanced home visiting with a focus on social and emotional well-being
Family strengthening and parent skills training

LAUNCH’s Objectives

  • Increase access to screening, assessment and referral to appropriate services for young children and families
  • Expand use of culturally relevant, evidence-based prevention and wellness promotion practices in a range of child-serving settings
  • Increase integration of behavioral health into primary care settings
  • Improve coordination and collaboration across disciplines at the local, state, territorial, tribal and federal levels
  • Increase workforce knowledge of children’s social and emotional development and skills to respond to behavioral health challenges of young children and families

Adapted from Project LAUNCH Briefing Sheet