Nebraska Children and Families Foundation: Also, a Foundation for Children’s Thriving Early Years

Early Childhood Mental Health: Why Is It Important?  

Picture a circuit board. Take in the delicate wiring, the vibrant colors of indigo, red, and yellow, all braided together. What appears to be a tangle of wires is a deliberate, delicate, and powerful structure. When the complex design is well wired, the possibilities are limitless.  

During the first three years, a child's brain creates a foundational wiring that serves her for life.
During the first three years, a child’s brain creates a foundational wiring that serves her for life.

The first three years of a child’s life are rife with neural opportunity. Throughout this time, brain synapses grow and multiply to create a foundation that serves a child for life.  

Nebraska Children and Families Foundation isn’t just a foundation in the organizational sense. As a nonprofit that’s dedicated to making sure young children thrive, we realize that problems can be prevented early in life.

One of the best preventative measures we can take is dedicating ourselves to the study and practices of infant and toddler mental health. Today, we’re going to walk you through its definition, initiatives, and resources that set children up for success during their early years and beyond.  

Early Childhood Mental Health: What It Is 

Infant and early childhood mental health, more concisely known as ECMH, is an exciting field with an important purpose. This area of study promotes young children’s ability to experience, manage, and express their emotions. But that’s not all. Other essentials of ECMH include maximizing a child’s ability to create close, nurturing relationships and exercise the capacity to learn and assimilate. These skillsets are all nestled within a caregiving setting that comprises family, community, and culture.  

As you might imagine, achieving these goals is no simple feat. That is why behind every practice, there are individuals who ensure that the message resounds. When it comes to ECMH, the members of Nebraska Association for Infant Mental Health (NAIMH) are the faces behind that organization, and the proponents who fuel the cause.  

Here are the attendees, some of whom include representatives from Nebraska Children’s Early Childhood initiative. This includes (from left to right), Sami Bradley (in the center), Lynne Brehm (in stripes), and Nikki Roseberry-Keiser (far right).
Here are the attendees, some of whom include representatives from Nebraska Children’s Early Childhood initiative. This includes (from left to right), Sami Bradley (in the center), Lynne Brehm (in stripes), and Nikki Roseberry-Keiser (far right).

The NAIMH does the following:  

  • Encourage and support nurturing infant relationships  
  • Provide hands-on study and engagement for professionals, students, and families 
  • Promote implementation of infant mental health principles for infant services, young children, and families  
  • Disseminate educational resources to enhance robust knowledge of infant mental health  

Get Involved  

The NAIMH is comprised of early childhood professionals from across the state of Nebraska. The initiative is co-led by Dr. Holly Hatton-Bowers and Sami Bradley. For more information Contact Holly at Contact Sami at  

Circle of Security Parenting (COS-P) 

How Does it Work?  

COS-P is created so that parents can learn and adapt to their children’s needs in a security-enhancing manner. This initiative also encourages parents to provide their children with a sense of security and build their own self-assurance so that their child can feel free to explore, learn, grow, and forge satisfying relationships. All these traits can pave the way for children to thrive.  

COS-P enhances parents' confidence and ability to enhance their children's sense of safety.
COS-P enhances parents’ confidence and ability to enhance their children’s sense of safety.

Who is it for? 

Parents/Caregivers that want to: 

  • Enhance a child’s attachment security to his/her parent 
  • Enhance parent’s self-assuredness to interpret child’s communication styles 
  • Promote parental empathy  
  • Enhance the parent’s ability for self-reflection 
  • Enhance the parent’s practices of pausing, contemplating, and selecting security-enhancing actions 
  • Promote parents’ ability to adjust to stressful situations 

Program Delivery:  

• Completed via small group• 1.5-to-2 hours each week for 8 weeks  

To make a referral or for more info: Go to You can use the “Find a Facilitator” to locate a class near you. 

Child-Parent Psychotherapy (CPP) 

How does it work? 

The mental health professional will meet with the caregiver and child to implement play therapy tactics that engage with and tailor to the family’s needs. CCP aims to maximize and repair the bonds between parents and children and attachment connection, to enhance a child’s social-emotional development, and to mitigate any trauma-related developmental issues.  

Who is it for? 

CPP is a form of therapy for childcare professionals and children birth-5 who have experienced the following:  

Program Delivery: 

  • Trauma, including abuse, neglect, and maltreatment Witnessing of domestic abuse 
  • Undergone the trauma of losing a caregiver  
  • Have experienced disruptions in caregiving 
  • Endured a critical injury or accident 
  • Exhibited mental health, attachment, or behavioral issues 
  • Weekly 1-to-1.5-hour sessions  
  • Involves both parent and child  
  • Spans 6-12 months, contingent on family’s needs and situation 

To make a referral or for more info: 

Find a therapist at by clicking on “Early Childhood Mental Health” to find the CPP Provider List. You can search by service area or therapist name. CPP is covered by most insurance plans 

Parent-Child Interaction Therapy 

How does it work? 

PCIT works by enhancing the parent-child relationship and maximizing attachment, parental best practices, and parental self-assuredness. This form of therapy can also mitigate difficult behavioral patterns and supplement the child’s willingness to follow directives and sense of deference. PCIT can support parents, regulate behaviors, and lessen caregiver stress.  

Who is it for?  

PCIT is a form of therapy for caregivers and their children ages 2-7 who have experienced: 

  • Behavioral issues 
  • Resistance to following instructions 
  • Tantrums
  • Behaviors that solicit attention 
  • ADHD, ODD 
  • Attachment issues 
  • Past trauma-based experiences and/or physical abuse 

Program Delivery: 

  • Weekly parent-child sessions  
  • May be completed within 20 sessions, or until parent grasps concepts and child’s behavior amends 

To make a referral or for more info: 

Find a therapist at and hover on “Early Childhood Mental Health” to find the PCIT Provider Contact List.  PCIT is covered by most insurance plans. 

I Want to Know (Even) More: What Resources Support Early Childhood Mental Health?  

This list should not be regarded as comprehensive. Some other excellent sources include Parents Interacting With Infants (PIWI): and Cultivating Healthy Intentional Mindful Educators (CHIME): 

Learn more  

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Nebraska Children's mission is to maximize the potential of Nebraska’s children, youth, and families through collaboration and community-centered impact.

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