Connecticut Mental Health Champion

In September of 2020 UCONN UCEDD was selected by Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) as a Children's Mental Health Champion through a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


Our CT Champion, Bethanne Vergean will act as community change agents to increase positive parenting practices, through a one-year term of service. Champions provide timely support for children and their families as COVID-19 has impacted school closures, suspended home visiting services, made pediatric visits virtual, and caused additional stress and financial insecurity. Champions will develop state-specific work plans to implement effective strategies for mental health promotion, prevention supports, and the creation of networks (e.g., school, healthcare, and community) to promote better connections between these systems.


UCONN UCEDD has partnered with Department of Children and Families to support families and children affected by the COVID pandemic. Currently UCEDD UCEDD has been collaborating with DCF  to develop a training for child welfare social workers on Learn the Signs. Act Early. This partnership builds upon a DCF initiative for young children and CT’s Act Early goal to collaborate with state agencies and partners on workforce development. With this funding opportunity, we would expand our work with a focus on children’s mental health.

Family Interaction Training (FIT) program: A Critical New Tool to Support Families and Communities

Family Interaction Training (FIT) is a behavioral training program designed to help parents of young children with disruptive behavior. FIT materials were developed for use by professionals who work with young children but who are not mental health experts, to help parents learn evidence-based parenting strategies to prevent or reduce challenging behaviors. The evaluation feedback thus far has been overwhelmingly positive. With the need to help families and communities being so great, we are making these evaluated FIT materials available now to professionals who work with parents of young children, while work continues to refine the content and develop more tools.

Module 1  Strengthening the Parent Child Relationships

Lesson 1 – Introduction to FIT Course & Module 1 Key Concepts

Lesson 2 – Communication

Lesson 3 – Using Attention Strategically

Lesson 4 – Praise

Lesson 5 – Scheduled Parent-Child Playtime

Module 2   Evidence Based Practice and Purposes Structuring the Environment to Prevent Misbehavior

Lesson 6 – Overview of Module 2 Key Concepts

Lesson 7 – Establishing Routines and Family Rules

Lesson 8 – Giving Clear Directions

Lesson 9 – Anticipating Problems, Using Redirection, and Easing Transitions

Lesson 10 – Helping Your Child Calm Down

Module 3   Evidence Based Practice and Purposes

Effective Strategies for Addressing Misbehavior

Lesson 11 – Overview of Key Concepts for Module 3

Lesson 12 – Time Out

Lesson 13 – Logical Consequences and Removal of Privileges

Lesson 14 – Conclusion

The FIT program consists of lessons, informed by existing evidence regarding critical elements of effective parent training programs that focus on strengthening the parent-child relationship, structuring the environment to prevent misbehavior, and using effective strategies for addressing misbehavior. Video lessons, downloadable guides, handouts, worksheets, and quizzes are included. This course was developed for people from a wide range of disciplines to teach parents of young children to use many of the parenting strategies commonly used in proven programs.