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Babies, children, caregivers, and families deserve high-quality services from professionals who are informed by infant and early childhood mental health principles and have a relationship-focused approach. This crosswalk is a helpful tool to identify the knowledge, skills, and experiences that lead providers to feel competent and well prepared to meet the complex relational needs of infants, young children, caregivers, and families.

Download a PDF of the entire crosswalk

The mission of the Alliance for the Advancement of Infant Mental Health (Alliance) is to build and sustain a diverse workforce, informed by infant and early childhood mental health (IECMH) principles, that strengthens early relationships. The mission is accomplished through advancing social and economic justice and becoming an antiracist organization, supporting professional development and research, and engaging Associations for Infant Mental Health (AIMHs) as partners.

The Alliance is an international organization including AIMHs from 35 U.S. states and 2 countries who currently use the Competency Guidelines for Endorsement for Culturally Sensitive, Relationship Focused Practice Promoting Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health (Endorsement). The Endorsement credential is part of a strategy that supports workforce development in the infant, young child, and family field. It promotes specialized experiences, such as coursework, in-service training, and reflective supervision, that lead to competent application of infant and early childhood mental health principles and practices.

The Endorsement credential provides evidence that an individual can successfully put this knowledge into practice and has been earned by over 5,000 professionals to date. There are currently 2,500 additional professionals in the process of applying.

The Center of Excellence for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (CoE) aims to impact the field of infant and early childhood mental health consultation by supporting the growth and advancement of the profession. IECMH consultants support professionals in early childhood education, home visiting, early intervention, and other early childhood settings. The CoE provides technical assistance to programs, communities, states, territories, and tribal communities, and professional development support for individual mental health consultants, to increase access to high-quality mental health consultation throughout the country.

The CoE has three areas of focus:

  • To serve as a clearinghouse for best practice resources related to developing, implementing, and maintaining an IECMH consultation program at a state, territorial, community, or tribal level.
  • To provide technical assistance to states, territories, programs, communities, or tribal nations in any stage of IECMH consultation program development
  • To provide professional development to IECMH consultants nationally

The Association for Infant Mental Health in Hawaii (AIMH-HI) partnered with the Alliance to grow and strengthen its IECMH-informed workforce. Hawai’i has a particular need to grow its capacity to deliver skilled IECMH consultation and received support from the Hawai’i Community Foundation and other partners to support this project. This crosswalk has been created by the Alliance in collaboration with the CoE, with support from AIMH-HI.

This crosswalk is intended to inform individuals; state, tribal, and territorial leaders; mental health agencies; IECMH consultation program directors; and IECMH system leaders about the overlapping and complementary competencies that define best practice for IECMH consultation and the broader competencies defined for the Endorsement for Culturally Sensitive, Relationship-Focused Practice Promoting Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health. Endorsement is a credential available to all disciplines and sectors of the infant-family workforce to document a specialization in infant/early childhood mental health. The Center of Excellence for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Competencies define the knowledge and skills specific to mental health consultation.

The crosswalk can be used to illuminate an individual’s or system’s strengths and gaps in professional development in their efforts to meet best practice standards. For those interested in pursuing Endorsement, generally speaking, IECMH consultation work experience fits best in the prevention scope of practice and is therefore a good fit for work requirements for Infant/Early Childhood Family Specialist Endorsement (IFS/ECFS). Although the work of IECMH consultation is preventative in nature, these multilayered competencies address the complexity and depth of skill required to meet the equally complex needs of infants, young children, caregivers, and families. Therefore, several of the Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Mentor (IMHM/ ECMHM) competencies are linked to the competencies the CoE has defined for IECMH consultation.

This crosswalk serves as a tool that identifies the commonalities of the Alliance and CoE competencies in order to:

  • Provide IECMH consultants with a map to the Endorsement credential
  • Lay out a professional development direction for IECMH-informed professionals who may wish to provide mental health consultation
  • For states/countries whose AIMHs are members of the Alliance:
    • Identify qualified IECMH consultants
    • Determine additional professional development opportunities (e.g., specialized in-service training) that may be needed to grow the number of qualified IECMH consultants

Individuals may find it useful to print out the PDF version of the crosswalk and check off areas of strength—that is, competencies that they have already addressed or achieved through college coursework, in-service training, conferences, on-the-job experience, and/ or other life experience. Then they may wish to highlight those areas that they have not yet addressed or achieved.

The richness of the competencies defined by this crosswalk reflects that the work of consultation is multilayered and intricate as well as clinical and systemic. Because of the depth of knowledge required to do this work well, the list of competencies may appear long and could feel overwhelming at first. Therefore, we have marked with an asterisk (*) the Essential competencies to review first. The Essential competencies are those that most urgently need to be mastered in order for a consultant or team of consultants to begin their work.

The additional competencies are marked with ellipses (…) and categorized as Important. The Important competencies, though also key to high-quality services, can be learned through ongoing training, reflective supervision/consultation, and support as consultants get settled into their roles over time. Note that the competencies marked as Essential are more heavily represented at the beginning of the crosswalk, so they can be completed sooner than it might first seem. For individuals who have earned Endorsement (IMH-E® or ECMH-E®) and are seeking to fill gaps to achieve competence as an IECMH consultant, note that areas marked with an equal sign (=) boxed in green have already been documented through the Endorsement application process. The areas marked with an approximately equal to sign (≈) boxed in yellow have been partially met or addressed through earning Endorsement but may require additional training and/or reflective supervision/consultation. Those marked with a not equal to sign (≠) boxed in blue are unique to mental health consultation and have not been documented through the Endorsement application process.

For individuals who have been working as an IECMH consultant and are interested in earning the Endorsement credential, a comparison of the crosswalk to one’s training record will identify strengths as well as highlight gaps that need to be addressed before submitting an application for Endorsement.

There are a number of ways that individuals can participate in professional development opportunities that will fully address competencies needed for provision of IECMH consultation and/or required for Endorsement. The Center of Excellence for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation website is an excellent resource. It is recommended that any individual interested in becoming an IECMH consultant first complete the CoE IECMH Consultant Self Assessment to get a more comprehensive understanding of their own strengths and gaps, specific to the CoE competencies. Additionally, the Training Hub on the Alliance for the Advancement of Infant Mental Health website provides more resources to support these unique IECMH competencies. Further, it’s recommended that all professionals who work with or on behalf of infants, young children, caregivers, and families be connected with their state’s/country’s association for infant mental health (AIMH). The Alliance provides links to 34 US state AIMHs, each of whom also provides relevant training and professional development. ZERO TO THREE (ZTT) offers myriad resources focused on supporting infants, toddlers, families, and the adults who care for them. As a member organization, ZTT provides a vibrant, connected community for professionals in diverse disciplines who are focused on child development, grounded in infant and early childhood mental health, and committed to advancing their knowledge and skills.

Access the domains of the crosswalk below or through the navigation on the left

1. Role of the IECMHC Consultant
This product was developed [in part] under grant number 1H79SM082070-01 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The views, policies and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of SAMHSA or HHS.