According to the Zero to Three National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families, “Young children are being expelled from preschool and child care programs at an astonishing rate, often because of challenging behaviors such as aggression, tantrums, and noncompliance. This practice deprives young children of the benefit of early childhood education and may leave unaddressed the mental health issues that lead to challenging behaviors”.
Addressing this critical need is the mission of Mississippi BuDS (Beginnings Determine Success).
Mississippi BuDS is a joint effort among the City of Jackson, Mississippi Families for Kids (MFFK) and Families as Allies, Inc. (FAA). These three entities collaborated on a grant application to SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) and their efforts were rewarded with one of only 22 grants that were awarded nationwide.
Through Mississippi BuDS, the partners are developing a pilot program for very young children that is intended to serve as a template for other communities to follow. The organizations will build upon existing services and practices for young children that are already in place, and will use the pilot program to inform further planning as the model is rolled out in other parts of the state.
Mississippi BuDS is also partnering with other organizations, both public and private, that are already working on children’s behavioral health, physical health, and educational issues as part of their focus. The three partners have made workforce development a critical part of the project because expertise in this area is almost non-existent in the state. A year-long training series for a 50-person cohort of clinicians addressing existing needs is already in progress.
The city’s Department of Human and Cultural Services director, Dr. Adriane Dorsey-Kidd is the Principal Investigator for Mississippi BuDS and is working in close collaboration with Mississippi Families For Kids’ executive director, Dr. Linda West and Families as Allies’ executive director, Dr. Joy Hogge. Laura Smith is the Project Director.