Beyond primary care, early relational health is supported in numerous evidence- informed or -based programs. Pediatricians can implement these in practice or partner with community-based programs to enhance referral communication and utilization.
Learn more about Early Relational Health: Community Level Strategies for Supporting the Psychosocial Health of Infants, Toddlers, and Caregivers.

In your practice

Reach out and Read: Reading together furthers language acquisition, promotes brain development, and provides an opportunity for families to build powerful, lasting bonds. Reach Out and Read is a national early literacy program serving more than 4 million children annually. This model can be implemented within well child visits and boasts 40,000 pediatric clinician participants. Learn how you can implement in your practice.

Healthy Steps: is a population-based model aimed at streamlining and enhancing implementation of AAP Bright Futures recommendations. It includes screening for children’s social-emotional and behavioral needs and family needs including social drivers of health. This model employs specialists to provide child development and family support. Healthy Steps has been shown to strengthen social emotional development and improve family knowledge of infant development. Find more at Zero to Three’s Healthy Step national home.

Promoting First Relationships in Pediatric Primary Care: is a training program at Parent-Child Relationship Programs at the Barnard Center, at the University of Washington. This program promotes children’s social-emotional development through responsive, nurturing caregiver-child relationships. Home Visiting, Child Care and Pediatric clinic-based models are offered training models. Learn more about Promoting First Relationships

Video Interaction Project (VIP): is an evidence-based parenting program that uses videotaping and developmentally appropriate toys, books and resources to help parents utilize pretend play, shared reading, and daily routines as opportunities for strengthening early development and literacy in their children. VIP sessions take place in pediatric clinics on days of routine well-child visits, and at each session families meet individually with a VIP Coach for approximately 25 minutes.

In your community

Help Me Grow: is a system model that builds on existing resources to develop a comprehensive approach to early childhood system building in communities. Successful implementation of the Help Me Grow model requires communities to identify existing resources, think creatively about how to make the most of existing opportunities, and build a coalition to work collaboratively toward a shared agenda. See if your state is part of the Help Me Grow affiliate network.

Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultants: Early childhood mental health consultants are professionals with mental health expertise who also have knowledge, and experience related to working with young children (birth to five) and their families. Some mental health consultants, referred to as infant mental health specialists, have specialized training in working with families and very young children, birth to three years. Find more including how to connect with mental health consultants at the Center of Excellence for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation.

Infant Early Child Mental Health Consultation is a prevention-based service that pairs a mental health consultant with families and adults who work with infants and young children in the different settings where they learn and grow, such as child care, preschool, and their home. The aim is to build adults’ capacity to strengthen and support the healthy social and emotional development of children―early and before intervention is needed.

Head Start: Head Start and Early Head Start program support early relational health of children and families through daily interactions, welcoming and safe environments, home visits, and family supports. These programs often employ infant and early childhood mental health consultants. Find a local Head Start program in your community.

Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Programs: The Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program supports pregnant people and parents with young children who live in communities that face greater risks and barriers to achieving positive maternal and child health outcomes. Home visitors and families develop strong relationships and trust through meeting regularly and addressing families’ needs. Find more about MIECHV home visiting in your state.

Home visitors:

  • Support healthy pregnancy practices
  • Provide information on topics such as breastfeeding, safe sleep, preventing unintended child injuries, and nutrition
  • Encourage early language development and early learning at home
  • Teach positive parenting skills like reading, playing, and praising good behaviors
  • Work with caregivers to set goals for the future, continue their education, and find employment and child care solutions
  • Connect families to other services and resources in their community

Therapy Interventions and Supports

Four commonly used evidence-based dyadic psychotherapies for young children include the following:

  • Child-Parent Psychotherapy (CPP); ages 0 to 5-years-old
  • Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), used primarily for young children with trauma; ages 3 to 18-years-old
  • Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) ages 3 to 7-years-old and Child Parent Relationship Therapy (CPRT) ages 3 to 8-years-old, used mostly for children with behavioral issues

For more information see the AAP Mental Health Toolkit.

To find therapy, try your local academic medical center, Association of Infant Mental Health, state centers for evidence-based practice, Child Psychiatry/MH Access Program.

Additional support modalities include:



Last Updated



American Academy of Pediatrics