Roughly one third of young children living in Chicago’s West Side communities show signs of early social, emotional, behavioral and/or developmental concerns. Building Early Connections (BEC) seeks to directly address these needs by developing integrated systems of care and expanding effective behavioral interventions for the most common early childhood concerns, including anxiety, trauma/coping, challenging behavior and developmental concerns.

Building Early Connections Center

The Building Early Connections (BEC) Center is an interdisciplinary clinical, training and research center that seeks to improve early systems of care in Chicago for the most common childhood mental health concerns related to healthy development, social impairments, and externalizing and/or internalizing symptoms.

BEC, funded by a 5-year SAMSHA grant, capitalizes on exciting research demonstrating the power of early childhood psychosocial interventions that result in profound and lasting treatment effects during a period of the greatest neuroplasticity in development.

Building Early Connections Graphic

Coordinated Screening and Referral

BEC aims to shift community perspectives from “watchful waiting” to “proactive solutions,” alter developmental trajectories and strengthen families. In partnership with the Rush Department of Pediatrics, BEC is committed to the early identification of the most common developmental, behavioral/emotional and social concerns in children from birth to age eight. By incorporating evidence-based screening tools, such as the Survey of Wellbeing of Young Children (SWYC) at primary care well-child visits, children with emerging concerns will be proactively identified and linked to appropriate behavioral health interventions.

Behavioral Health Consultation

Primary Care practices within the Rush system engage in collaborative care with behavioral health providers to integrate screening, psychoeducation, brief behavioral health intervention within a “closed loop” referral system for our youngest patients and their families.

Caregiver Training

The quality and stability of young children’s relationships with their parents and other primary caregivers lays the foundation for children’s growth across a wide range of domains, including their cognitive, emotional, social, behavioral, and physical development. Building Early Connections brings evidence-based parenting interventions to the larger Rush community, equipping parents to the be “agents of change” in their children’s developmental trajectories.

Professional Development

BEC aims to increase the capacity of our systems to identify and address the most common early childhood concerns by expanding the pool of professionals equipped to identify and intervene. Utilizing the Project ECHO  platform, BEC will train and mentor community mental health providers, early education teachers, and daycare/afterschool providers to implement evidence-based parenting interventions - expanding the capacity and expertise of our community partners.

Community Awareness and Engagement

By employing a multifaceted promotional approach, BEC will educate communities on health child development, build engagement, and support systems of care that support families. BEC will partner with first line care providers to support, educate and empower both parents and communities as whole.