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3rd annual Ready! Resilient! Early Childhood Mental Health Summit to review state's progress

Gov. Spencer Cox and First Lady Abby Cox, will present the third annual Ready! Resilient! Utah Early Childhood Mental Health Summit on Thursday.

Gov. Spencer Cox and First Lady Abby Cox, will present the third annual Ready! Resilient! Utah Early Childhood Mental Health Summit on Thursday. (The Children's Center Utah)


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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Gov. Spencer Cox and First Lady Abby Cox will be co-hosting the state's third annual Ready! Resilient! Utah Early Childhood Mental Health Summit on Thursday.

The event is a partnership between the Children's Center Utah and the University of Utah Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute and will be held virtually from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. The summit is open to anyone and will feature multiple panels and speakers centered on childhood mental health and the mental health of providers.

"The goal of this summit is to raise awareness of the importance of early childhood mental health. Oftentimes, people don't consider the fact that young children, infants, toddlers and preschoolers have mental health," said Stephanie Warner, government relations manager for the Children Center Utah. "The intended audience really is anyone who interacts with very young children — caregivers, parents, grandparents, educators, daycare providers."

Speakers will include a keynote by Dr. Jessica Pryce, director of the Floridan Institute for Child Welfare at Florida State University; Gov. Cox and First Lady Abby Cox; and panelists from the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute and the Children Center Utah. Pryce's keynote will discuss the different aspects of child welfare such as anti-poverty practices and racial disparities and policy efforts to improve child welfare.

"The First Lady and I are proud to once again co-host Utah leaders in education, healthcare, public policy and beyond for the Ready! Resilient! Summit," Gov. Cox said in a press release. "We are grateful to be a partner in the critical work the Children's Center Utah is doing to expand access to mental health resources for our youngest Utahns. Their efforts to create a baseline understanding of needs, build awareness of best practices and create opportunities for treatment for vulnerable children, will transform our schools and communities."

The event will also report progress made since the last several summits and discuss program or policy efforts. The progress will be discussed and presented by the Early Childhood Mental Health Working Group, comprised of key stakeholders involved across sectors in childhood mental health.

The working group will propose solutions to problems identified in the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute study, Early Childhood Mental Health in Utah. Addressing childhood mental health and providing resources early on is vital, especially in Utah.

"We have approximately 458,000 children between the ages of 0 and 8 in our state — we're the youngest state in the country. We know studies estimate that 10 to 20% of them have mental health needs and could benefit from extra support. So, I think it's important to have these conversations that that starting upstream and being aware of and providing resources for our youngest children really is a strategic solution to downstream issues," said Warner.

The event is accessible to anyone, an attempt to provide an additional resource at a time when mental health resources may be harder to access.

"Resources are limited, and that is part of why this event is geared towards all people who interact with young children — because having all of the adults in their lives, understanding their mental health needs can help support that child when resources are needed," added Warner.

To register for the event or learn more about speakers, visit the Children Center Utah's website.

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Ashley Fredde covers human services and and women's issues for KSL.com. She also enjoys reporting on arts, culture and entertainment news. She's a graduate of the University of Arizona.

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