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Children's Mental Health

Project LAUNCH - Overview

Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children’s Health
A project of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

The health and prosperity of our families, communities, and nation require an investment in the physical and emotional health of our young children. Nationwide, 24 communities are pioneering new ways to promote young child wellness through Project LAUNCH, a federal initiative funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Population of focus: children from birth through age 8.

man and two children

The goal: for all children to reach social, emotional, behavioral, physical and cognitive milestones. Healthy growth in each of these areas builds the foundation for children to thrive in school and beyond.

Over five years, these 24 communities increase the quality and availability of evidence-based programs, improve collaboration among child-serving organizations, and integrate physical and behavioral health services and supports for children and their families. Lessons learned from the communities guide state- and tribal-level systems changes and policy improvements. Strong partnerships between the state or tribe and local communities lead to the sustainability and replication of successful practices on a large scale and systems improvements that have an impact beyond the life of the grant.

Project LAUNCH grantees are guided by Young Child Wellness Councils that engage key leaders in developing a common strategy and plan for improving outcomes for young children and their families. These councils join with families and public and private partners to scan communities and pinpoint unmet needs, then develop strategic plans that guide their use of five prevention and promotion strategies drawn from current research (see right panel). In addition to providing direct services, Project LAUNCH states, tribes, and communities increase knowledge about healthy child development through public education campaigns and cross-disciplinary workforce development activities.

A unique federal-level partnership among SAMHSA, the Administration for Children and Families, the Health Resources and Services Administration, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guides Project LAUNCH.

Project LAUNCH’s Five Prevention and Promotion Strategies

  • Screening and assessment in a range of child-serving settings
  • Integration of behavioral health into primary care settings
  • Mental health consultation in early care and education
  • Family strengthening and parent skills training
  • Enhanced home visiting through increased focus on social and emotional well-being