Project PLAY logo

Partnering with early childhood professionals to promote social-emotional health of Arkansas’ children.


teacher holding baby

Project PLAY matches early childhood mental consultants with early care and education providers in Arkansas.

Our FREE service offers innovative techniques proven to positively impact the social and emotional development of children.


Three Types of Consultation


Preschool children at tableConsultants work with teachers to improve the care offered to all children in their classrooms by helping identify attitudes, believes, practices, and classroom conditions that might undermine quality relationships between teachers and children.

Child Specific

two women holding babyWhen a specific child’s behavior concerns parents or teachers, the PLAY consultant helps them understand, assess and address the child’s needs by developing an individualized plan.


consultant with teacher
Directors and other program leaders are supported by PLAY consultants to make changes in their child care practices and policies to benefit all children and adults in their settings.




A teacher’s job is tough!

Teacher Consoles Crying Toddler Project PLAY consultants help teachers with developmentally appropriate practices to deal with issues in early childhood classrooms, such as:

  • Teacher Stress
  • Challenging Child Behaviors
  • Friendship Skills
  • Building Self-Control
  • Communication with Parents
  • Classroom Schedules & Transitions and More!

Training Opportunities

Arkansas PDR identifies training opportunities for early childhood teachers in your area of Arkansas.

Pyramid Model

Learn a public health approach to supporting children’s social and emotional development from these two sites:

Center for the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning

Technical Assistance Center on Social Emotional Intervention

Additional Tools

Pre-K Social-Emotional Learning (Pre-K SEL)

Positive Behavioral Interventions & Support (PBIS)

Promote Stable, Quality Care

Dad and Daughter
Science tells us children have better outcomes when they attend high quality child care. This is especially true of vulnerable children, like those in child protective services. Healthy growth and development in early childhood is dependent on nurturing relationships with stable adults.

Foster Care Facts

In Arkansas, over 3000 children under age 6 are in foster care.  Most of these children also attend child care. Unfortunately, most do not attend quality-rated child care, and many experience multiple switches in child care arrangements.

How We Help

Mother Smiling at SonProject PLAY strives to increase the percentage of children in quality child care, to decrease switches in child care placement, and to improve communication between important grown-ups caring for foster children.

  • We prioritize services for centers serving children in foster care.
  • We educate case workers, foster parents, courts, and CASA volunteers on the importance high quality, stable child care.
  • We provide materials for use by child care providers, such as

Children in Foster Care Brief

Meeting the Special Needs of Foster Children

A brief that provides teachers information on with children who have experienced trauma, including classroom strategies to support their social-emotional development.

Child Care and Child Welfare Partnership Toolkit

Includes an Information Exchange Guide to “jump-start” the sharing of information between child care provider and family service worker.

Apple on Desk

Covid-19 Resources

Our new social story, My Teacher Wears a Mask was created to help address any potential fear or apprehension experienced by young children due to new guidance related to teachers’ use of protective masks.

My Teacher Wears a Mask- PDF

My Teacher Wears a Mask – Ebook

Coping with COVID is a resource for center administrators using the 10 Components of Trauma-Informed Care to support children during/after COVID crisis.

Coping With COVID

Conference Materials

Fundamentals of School Readiness – pdf

Early Childhood Evidence Base – pdf Dr. Deborah Perry – Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development. Supporting Healthy Social and Emotional Child Development in Early Education Settings. University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences – May 17, 2011

Project PLAY Initiatives

Every Child in Foster Care Deserves Our Best – pdf

Books for Children

Children’s books to support social-emotional learning in the classroom – pdf

Books for Teachers

Emotional Life of the Toddler by Alicia F. Lieberman – Amazon

The Secure Child: Helping Our Children Feel Safe and Confident in a Changing World by Stanley I. Greenspan – Amazon

Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs edited by CarolCopple  & Sue Bredekamp – NAEYC

First Feelings: Milestones in the Emotional Development of Your Baby and Child by Stanley I. Greenspan and Nancy Thorndike Greenspan – Amazon

Helpful Websites

Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development

Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning

Center on the Developing Child

Child with books

Current Areas Served

Map of current Project PLAY consultant locations – pdf

Parent Resources

Zero to Three and Center for Effective Parenting offer parenting classes in Central Arkansas and Northwest Arkansas free of charge. Centers for Youth & Families  offers parenting classes on various topics including Parenting the ADHD Child, Parenting the Strong Willed Child, and Parenting through Divorce. AAROC – Arkansas Autism Resource & Outreach Center  designed to provide hope, direction, and support to parents of children on the autism spectrum. Better Beginnings, Arkansas Child Care Information. Find info on child care centers in your area. Learn what quality child care looks like and why it is important to early child development. Centers for Disease Control – Developmental Milestones Skills. Children reach milestones in how they move, play, learn, speak, and behave. This webpage shows what to expect from birth to 5 years old.

This Mental Health Provider Checklist includes questions that parents can ask of mental health professional to learn if they are able to provide evidence-based treatment for childhood trauma

Consultation Works!teacher and children with beads

Based on real data collected in Arkansas, the benefits of our consultation are proven to be effective.


  • 74% reported learning new strategies for dealing with behavior problems.
  • 87% reported good relationships with their Project PLAY consultants.
  • Objective observers found that teachers were significantly more positive and engaged with children after consultation.


  • 57% decrease in physically aggressive behavior
  • 40% decrease in children exhibiting “clinical level” behavior problems.
  • Significant decrease in teacher-reported behavior problems.
  • Significant increase in teacher-reported social skills.

Published Results

Project PLAY Annual Report 2018-2019

Project PLAY Annual Report 2017-2018

Project PLAY Annual Report 2013-2014

Conners-Burrow, N. A., Whiteside-Mansell, L., Mckelvey, L., Virmani, E. A. and Sockwell, L. (2012), Improved classroom quality and child behavior in an Arkansas early childhood mental health consultation pilot project. Infant Ment. Health J., 33: 256–264. doi: 10.1002/imhj.21335 Link to Abstract

Conners-Burrow, N., McKelvey, L., Sockwell, L., Harman Ehrentraut, J., Adams, S. and Whiteside-Mansell, L. (2013), Beginning to “Unpack” Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation: Types of Consultation Services and Their Impact on Teachers. Infant Ment. Health J., 34: 280–289. doi: 10.1002/imhj.21387 Link to Abstract



Group of people with certificates

Project PLAY

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
Department of Family & Preventive Medicine
Research & Evaluation Division (RED)
521 Jack Stephens Drive, Slot 530
Little Rock, AR 72205
Phone: 501.526.4239
Fax: 501.686.8421