Author ORCID Identifier


Date of Award

Spring 5-10-2024

Degree Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Laura Jane Miller

Second Advisor

Kinsuk Maitra


Georgia faces a significant pediatric mental health crisis, with an estimated 126,000 out of 900,000 children aged 0–6 years old needing mental health services (IECMH State Issue Brief #1, 2021; IECMH State Issue Brief #2, 2023). The detrimental impact of toxic stress, trauma, and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) on a child's developing brain is well documented (National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, 2005/2014; Nelson et al., 2020). Early exposure to trauma and toxic stress can lead to behavioral and emotional difficulties, developmental delays, and deficits in executive function, affecting occupational performance (Nelson et al., 2020). Despite the proven efficacy of early interventions in mitigating brain architecture damage and fostering resilience, there exists a knowledge gap concerning the role of occupational therapy in addressing ACEs and toxic stress during childhood. (Kingsley et al., 2020; National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, 2005/2014). While studies emphasize the importance of early support for infants and families affected by trauma, occupational therapy remains notably absent from intervention discussions (Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, 2021; Kingsley et al., 2020). This capstone project aims to address this gap by outlining the utilization of occupational therapy services within an interdisciplinary team and identifying billing strategies and funding sources to fund the establishment and delivery of occupational therapy services within the novel infant and early childhood mental health clinic. This project seeks to set the foundation for creating comprehensive mental health services within Georgia's infant and early childhood population, ultimately enhancing the well-being of young children and their families.

File Upload Confirmation