Johnstown-based education nonprofit The Learning Lamp has been awarded a $10,000 Community Initiative Grant from the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies that will be used to help keep young children from being expelled from preschool programs, The Learning Lamp announced Tuesday.

The nonprofit has used the grant to put an Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant in its preschool classrooms in Cambria and Somerset counties.

“This is an evidence-based approach proven to address the kind of severe behavioral issues that some young children bring with them into the classroom – behaviors that go beyond disrupting the class and can actually present a safety concern,” Erica Ponczek, director of child development and early learning at The Learning Lamp, said in a press release.

In the release, The Learning Lamp officials argued that “incidents of unmanageable behaviors in early learning settings have reached serious proportions” and that “most early childhood providers are ill-equipped and lack the training to handle it.”

The mental health consultant’s job is to design “an action plan of program practices that are more responsive to the identified needs of the child, improving behavior and promoting strong social-emotional health,” thereby preventing misbehavior, according to The Learning Lamp.

“The Learning Lamp had 13 preschool-aged children ... that could’ve benefited from consultant services last school year. Now we can address the needs of each child as the situation arises and provide our staff with the tools they need to help every child learn,” Ponczek said.

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