School Mental Health

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 254–263 | Cite as

Serving the Needs of Young Children with Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Needs: A Commentary

  • Karen L. Bierman
  • Erin T. Mathis
  • Celene E. Domitrovich
Original Paper


Currently, 69% of American four- and five-year-olds are enrolled in some kind of center-based early childhood education (ECE) program, and 43 of the 50 states of the USA offer state-funded prekindergarten programs. This creates an important opportunity for the early promotion of social, emotional, and behavioral competencies and early intervention to remediate behavior problems and address emerging mental health concerns. This special issue highlights four new evidence-based programs that promote the development of social, emotional, and behavioral competencies in early childhood and reduce the risks associated with challenging behaviors. In this commentary, we highlight key issues that emerged across the four papers included in this special issue, including common ground and areas of distinction across the programs. We celebrate the progress made in this area over the past two decades that is reflected in these papers, and focus on critical steps in this domain for future research and practice.


Early childhood education Intervention Social–emotional development Challenging behaviors Mental health consultation 



This paper benefitted from funding by the J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (HD046064).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Dr. Domitrovich is an author on the PATHS Curriculum and has a royalty agreement with Channing-Bete, Inc. This has been reviewed and managed by Penn State’s Individual Conflict of Interest Committee. The other authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  2. 2.Early Childhood Innovation NetworkGeorgetown UniversityWashingtonUSA

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