DC: 0–5 system in clinical assessment with specialty pediatric populations

Claire Dahl, Maya J. Bauer, Maria Kroupina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Early childhood mental health (ECMH) programs provide an opportunity to provide specialized mental health services to vulnerable young children and connect them with necessary evidence-based early intervention. However, there is a paucity of descriptive and explorative studies of the clinic protocols in the literature. Even within published work, there is a lack of standardization in clinical models and diagnostic systems limiting comparison and extrapolation. This paper describes how the DC: 0–5 framework guides the development of the model for an ECMH clinic embedded in the context of academic pediatrics. It also highlights the opportunity the DC 0–5 presents for developing the standardized protocols and a mechanism for standardized data collection in clinical settings. The paper demonstrates the utility of using the DC 0–5 in protocol development, assessment and data collection the mental health assessments of 87 children ages 0–6 were reviewed to gather information on history, presenting problems, parent-child relationship, and mental health diagnoses. This paper and associated data underscore the utility and necessity of ECMH clinics while identifying challenges in the field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)372-386
Number of pages15
JournalInfant Mental Health Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Primarily we thank all the children and families who presented to this clinic. Additionally, we offer our gratitude and acknowledgement to Alyssa Palmer, MA for her conceptual and analytical support, Kathryn Elison MSW who built the foundation of our clinical data collection protocol thus making this study possible and Nora Erickson PhD for her review and feedback.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health.


  • clinical model
  • DC: 0–5
  • early childhood
  • mental health
  • pediatric psychology

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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