Infant and early childhood mental health consultation (IECMHC) work is complex. As such, IECMH consultants must possess a unique blend of skills, knowledge, and attributes. This section explores the competencies, training, supervision, mentoring, and quality assurance systems needed to build a strong IECMHC workforce and deliver high-quality IECMHC services. As a first step, everyone involved with delivering IECMHC services – or hiring/supervising those who do – should be familiar with the IECMHC Basics. For a more in-depth look at what to include when onboarding IECMH consultants, check out the e-learning module on training and support.

IECMHC Foundational Modules

These e-learning modules explore each of the eight IECMHC competencies and are designed to help viewers understand what it means to be an IECMH consultant and the skills, attitudes and knowledge needed to be successful. For an equity perspective on the competencies, also check out the Equity Chat Series.

Workforce Development Planning

Program Planning and Reflection Tool (PPRT) This program-level online assessment tool helps users evaluate progress in key IECMHC program implementation areas while providing guidance on how to put these elements into place. An entire domain is devoted to workforce and covers: recruiting & hiring, initial training, ongoing professional development, clinical/reflective supervision, service delivery support, and workforce retention. Users can complete an interactive version online, or simply download PDF versions for strategic planning. Access PDF files here: Workforce PPRT Module only | Entire PPRT (all five modules).

Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Workforce Development Plan Overview This resource outlines key considerations for building a skilled workforce of IECMH consultants. In addition to providing a summary of recommended consultant qualifications and competencies, this resource presents guidance on five domains for workforce development: orientation, service delivery, skill building, ongoing training, and reflective supervision.

Recruiting & Hiring IECMH Consultants

Hiring Guidance This e-learning module is designed to support IECMHC program managers in the hiring process of IECMH consultants.

SAMPLE IECMH Consultant Job Description (Colorado)

SAMPLE IECMH Consultant Job Description (San Francisco, CA)

SAMPLE IECMH Consultant Job Description (Michigan)

Best Practice Tutorial 9 – Module 1: Job Descriptions, Hiring & Contracts

Training Curriculum Guidance

Consultant Assessment This online, self-guided tool was created to help IECMH consultants figure out where to focus their learning journey. By using this assessment to gauge knowledge and mastery of the CoE’s IECMHC Competencies, consultants will be able to better develop a training plan that fits identified needs. This assessment is accompanied by a Resource Crosswalk to help consultants identify resources to support professional growth.

Training and Support Guide This e-learning module is designed to support IECMHC program managers with the onboarding training and support of IECMH consultants in their first year.

SAMPLE IECMHC Program Start-Up Training Outline

Curriculum Guidelines for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Building on the CoE’s IECMHC Competencies, this resource helps programs create comprehensive training standards and content to develop a strong IECMH consultant workforce. Specific domains, content areas, and training tools are outlined.

IECMHC Training Qualifications Grid This resource lists the qualifications, training, and supervision necessary to function competently as IECMH consultant, whether practicing as an independent consultant or as part of a targeted or statewide program.

Training and Workforce Development Activities that Prepare and Support IECMH Consultants Describes a range of opportunities and approaches to consultant training, broken down by practice environments and targeted to different levels of consultant experience.

Crosswalk between Competency Guidelines for Endorsement for Culturally Sensitive, Relationship-Focused Practice Promoting IECMH and CoE Competencies. This crosswalk is intended to inform individuals; state, tribal, and territorial leaders; mental health agencies; IECMHC program directors; and IECMH system leaders about the overlapping and complementary competencies that define best practice for IECMHC and the broader competencies defined for the Endorsement for Culturally Sensitive, Relationship-Focused Practice Promoting Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health.

Cultural and Linguistic Competence Self-Assessment Checklists for Early Head Start and Head Start Program Administrators and Managers These tools are designed to assist managers and administrators in assessing the extent to which they demonstrate integration of cultural and linguistic competence into values, attitudes, communication styles, and the physical environment. Additional self-assessment items address approaches to support staff and consultants in their journey towards cultural and linguistic competence.  For a PDF compilation of all checklists, click here.

Cultural and Linguistic Competence Self-Assessment Checklists for Early Head Start and Head Start Programs The intent of these tools is to increase awareness and sensitivity of administrators, program managers, and staff to the importance of cultural diversity and cultural and linguistic competence in Head Start and Early Head Start programs. For a PDF compilation of all checklists, click here.

Professional Development Resources

Online Tutorials

Best Practice Tutorial Series While these self-guided tutorials were designed for Head Start and Early Head Start audiences, much of the content is broadly applicable to anyone seeking guidance on best practice in infant and early childhood mental health consultation.

Foundational Modules A self-guided tutorial developed by the Center of Excellence to align with the National IECMHC Competencies designed. These eight modules are designed to support Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultants in their professional development, and can be viewed in any order.

Beyond the 101: IECMHC Lessons. This trio of online learning modules explores best practice in IECMHC with regard to equity, supporting infants and toddlers, and working with families in a meaningful and effective way.


Observation Toolkit for Mental Health Consultants This toolkit provides mental health consultants with observation forms and processes that they can use to help teachers and program managers promote positive social emotional development and prevent challenging behavior.

Facilitating Individualized Interventions to Address Challenging Behavior This toolkit is designed to assist the mental health consultant in guiding teachers, teams, and families in developing and implementing an individualized plan of positive behavioral supports that reduces challenging behavior and promotes communication and social skills.

Resource Briefs

Mental Health in IECMHC: Why Mental Health Training is Essential to IECMH Consultants This brief provides an overview of important mental health concepts and psychological processes that IECMH consultants employ to understand, support, and build capacity in consultees.

Shadowing & Reflection Guide This short two-pager is geared towards consultants, and provides guidance on how to get the most out of the shadowing experience.

A Day in the Life of an Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant Using engaging vignettes across several practice environments, this resource demonstrates the qualifications, training, and supervision necessary to function competently as an IECMH consultant.

Consultative Stance Brief The quality of the ECMH consultant-consultee relationship is proving to be a predictor of positive service outcomes. The Consultative Stance outlines the elements essential to establishing effective interaction.  This document describes each element. It is excerpted from Johnston, K, and Brinamen, C. (2006). Mental Health Consultation in Child Care: Transforming Relationships Among Directors, Staff, and Families.

Bridging IECMHC to Direct Mental Health Services Supporting and facilitating successful referrals is one of the core skill areas of mental health consultation. IECMH consultants are uniquely positioned to bridge consultees to needed direct mental health services. The strategies in this resource brief help to ensure a successful referral.

Pivoting in a Pandemic: Stories from the Field and Lessons Learned COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the practice of infant and early childhood mental health consultation, as well as on early childhood providers, infants, young children, and families. The worldwide health crisis has exposed and exacerbated longstanding inequities. Specifically, the pandemic’s unveiling of structural injustices in employment, health care, and education has brought much-needed attention to racial disproportionality, especially for African Americans and Native Americans (Indigenous). For both experienced and inexperienced IECMH consultants, the pandemic and resulting changes in how recipients of consultation, infants, young children, and families are served have presented unique challenges in the provision of consultation

Pyramid Model Equity Coaching Guide Developed by the Pyramid Equity Project, this guide provides coaches with a reflection tool to examine the implementation of Pyramid Model practices through the lens of culturally responsive practices and identification of implicit bias. IECMH consultants working with Pyramid Model coaches might also benefit from the guidance found within.

Resource Crosswalk for Consultant Assessment. This crosswalk aligns with the Consultant Self-Assessment Tool, and is designed to help identify resources and learning opportunities on the CoE website to support consultants’ personal professional development.

Materials for Field Use

Resources to Support Work with Consultees

Through a three-year grant from the Office of Head Start, the Center for Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (CECMHC) created an exciting collection of resources for IECMH consultants to use with the providers, families, and children they support through consultation. Included in this collection is an array of reproducible products for use in consultation settings that foster a strong social-emotional foundation (e.g. posters, activity booklets, bookmarks). A couple of these resources are featured below. Numerous additional materials are available here.

Teaching Tools for Young Children with Challenging Behavior This resource is designed for use by teachers and offers easily accessible ideas and materials to support children in the classroom and other learning environments.

Staff Wellness Package – Taking Care of Ourselves: Stress and Relaxation This collection of materials, including bookmarks, posters, booklets, and audio relaxation exercises, can be used to support providers and families. Many are available in English and Spanish. In addition, there are PowerPoint slides and handouts to help IECMH consultants offer a stress reduction workshop for consultees.

Assessment Measures

Infant Toddler Temperament Tool (IT3) This tool includes a short online survey that allows parents and caregivers of infants and toddlers to recognize and explore their own temperament traits and those of a child for which they provide care. The IT3 generates results which support parents and caregivers in understanding how adult and child similarities and differences in temperament traits may affect “goodness of fit.” Along with these results, the IT3 generates simple best practice tips adults can use to foster the unique temperament of each child within their care. Accompanying materials include 1) Introduction to Temperament; and 2) Temperament Traits Chart.

Administrative Tools 

SAMPLE IECMHC Memorandum of Understanding


SAMPLE MHC Job Description

SAMPLE Child-Specific Action Plan

SAMPLE Classroom Action Plan

SAMPLE Programmatic Action Plan

Consultant Supervision, Support & Retention

Reflective Supervision Tip Sheets These tip sheets offer a comprehensive overview of how to form an effective relationship between a supervisor and supervisee. Supervisor Version | Supervisee Version

Sustaining IECMH Consultants in their Jobs Once a mental health professional has been successfully recruited and trained to provide IECMHC services, a management team’s priority becomes retaining that now well-trained consultant. This resource brief will discuss key programmatic features that support worker satisfaction and bolster retention efforts.

How to Support a Mental Health Consultant Who is New to Your Tribal Community This tip sheet provides strategies for tribal communities and/or programs that are starting work with a IECMH consultant who is new to the community.

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.