Social and Emotional Health

Children’s social emotional skills acquired before age 5—their capacity to control one’s behavior, get along with peers, and ask for and accept help—are important skills that will help get them ready for the classroom.

When children arrive to kindergarten able to sit still, follow directions, take turns, control their emotions, and use language to communicate their ideas and needs, they are more likely to thrive. Without a handle on these social-emotional skills, children enter through the school doors already behind.

The Ounce of Prevention Fund works to ensure that early childhood programs incorporate strategies to promote the healthy social-emotional development of children.


The Ounce works to integrate healthy social-emotional developmental practices as well as services in a range of settings where young children are seen. The Ounce has advocated for young children to receive periodic developmental, social, and emotional screenings during regularly-scheduled visits to a doctor, for inclusion of social-emotional services in Early Intervention and for mental health consultants to be available in a wide range of early childhood settings from Early Intervention to Child Care to Preschool for All.

In 2003, the Ounce advocated for the passage of the Illinois Children’s Mental Health Act. The legislation established the Illinois Children’s Mental Health Partnership, which works to incorporate mental health services for children ages birth to 21 in the education system. The Ounce works with the Partnership with particular emphasis on early childhood.