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Homeless Children’s Network’s Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Program (ECMHC) is an early intervention and prevention-based service that pairs culturally competent mental health consultants with vulnerable communities supporting infants and young children in various settings, such as child care centers, shelters, and family resource centers.
Established over 25 years ago, this program responds to the needs of families affected by homelessness and unstable housing. Through a relationship-focused, equitable, and trauma-informed approach, consultants build adults’ capacity to support the healthy social and emotional development of children. Due to the program's effectiveness, HCN now integrates support services within 50 communities across San Francisco.
Our diverse team of consultants addresses all relationships within each system, offering a community mental health perspective that respects and appreciates differences and diversity. HCN has moved beyond traditional individualized mental health treatment, grounding our approach in community collaboration and collective strength, where every community member is embraced as our client, reinforcing the notion that everyone is stronger together.

Service Settings

Early Education Center

Outpatient Substance Abuse Clinics

Family Resource Centers

San Fransisco Unified School District


Family Childcare Centers

Services Provided

Mental Health Consultation to Staff & Program

Mental Health Consultation focused on Children Ages 0-5, Individual, Families, Groups

Training to staff on mental health related topics

Training Staff on Mental Health Related Topics

Referrals and Case Management

Ages and Stages Developmental Screenings

School/Classroom Observations

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support

Couple with Kids

National Theory of Change

Program Level: Staff with knowledge of mental health best practices utilize

classroom strategies that decrease challenging behaviors, decrease child

expulsion, and increase attendance.

Staff Level: When staff understand why children experience challenging

behaviors, then they are more sensitive, less harsh, and they have more positive interactions with children.

Family Level: Families who feel supported are more likely to share and

communicate their needs with staff, and are more likely to accept support


Child Level: Children with emotional and behavioral challenges are identified before those behaviors negatively impact their early childhood care & education placement.

Program Level

Staff Level

Family Level

Child Level

Consultative Stance:

The consultant primarily listens, learns, and observes relationships within the consultation environment.

Builds reflective practice and curiosity with staff through individual or group consultations and classroom modeling.

Facilitates deeper conversations on topics like implicit bias, personal triggers, and cultural competence within a safe relationship.

Co-creates meaning around behaviors and enhances adults' capacity-building skills with support.

Encourages system-wide mental health goals, plans, and visions with the leadership team.

Navigates across all system levels (program, staff, family, child).

Flower in Sunlight

Summary Garden

ECMHC is a national model that has demonstrated
improvement in children’s overall wellbeing. At HCN we hold a strong mental health framework and utilize a parallel process to best support the social emotional needs of children. Our goals include co-creation with communities to internalize and externalize strong equitable practices to reduce disparities in communities of color and create equitable opportunities for children and their families to heal and thrive within communities
they feel safe in. We aim to destigmatize infant and early childhood mental health by informing and empowering families through psychoeducation and to offer unlimited access to consultants who mirror each community's cultural needs.
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