Publication date: May 2019
Source: Children and Youth Services Review, Volume 100
Author(s): Sonia Jain, Rebecca Reno, Alison K. Cohen, Henrissa Bassey, Mansi Master
Families with young children who have mental health needs have unique challenges in caring for their children; these challenges are compounded for low-income, culturally- and linguistically-diverse families (some of whom may be immigrants). This study reports on findings from five multi-lingual focus groups that engaged caregivers of children (N = 65) receiving mental health services from California’s Alameda County. Parents identified several challenges associated with caring for their young children including unmet basic needs, chronic stress, inadequate parent-provider communication, and organizational, community-level, and society-level factors (e.g., service fragmentation, neighborhood safety, and social injustice). These caregivers also reported numerous strengths, such as a commitment to their children’s positive development, and a broader sense of community connectedness. Participants had several recommendations for how to improve the county’s early childhood system of care, and emphasized a need to focus more broadly on school and neighborhood improvement to support health and wellness among young children. This study demonstrates the value of a system of care model, as its emphasis on system-wide impact is aligned with addressing challenges at the individual, family, community, organizational, and societal levels, as called for by parents.