The Infant, Early Childhood and Family Mental Health Certificate Program is an intensive, interdisciplinary one year continuing education program for professionals who work with children ages birth to six and their families.
The certificate program is designed with an appreciation of the strengths and contributions of all the professions that touch the lives of young children. The participants who complete this professional development program will gain an enhanced understanding of infant and early childhood mental health and new skills to support the social and emotional development and well-being of young children in the context of their family/caregiver relationships.
Participation is by application only. The application process for the 2013-2014 cohort is closed. Please contact Kristi Obmascher to join our interest list for the 2014-2015 program.
Following a cohort model, participants will earn a certificate from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Division of Continuing Studies, Dept. of Professional Development and Applied Studies by completing one of two concurrent pathways:
Why is specialized training important?
Infants and their caregivers together form the cornerstone of human relationships. Within these early attachment relationships, infants and young children have experiences that amplify or buffer the temperamental proclivities they bring to the world and that shape their feelings about themselves and others. Yet infants and their caregivers do not always form satisfying relationships that meet the needs of the young child, nor do young children necessarily outgrow developmental, emotional, or behavioral problems. However, young children and families do respond to early clinical evaluation and therapeutic intervention.
The past 20 years have brought an increased recognition of mental health disturbances in very young children including disturbances in mood; difficulties in regulation of feeding, sleep, or attention; sensory or relational difficulties; and withdrawn or aggressive behavior. Studies suggest that the prevalence rates of mental health problems in children ages birth through five range from 16 to 21% (Egger & Angold, 2006; Lavigne et al., 1996). Additionally, a growing number of preschoolers are expelled from child care settings each year due to challenging behaviors (Gilliam, 2005).
The field of Infant Mental Health has generated theory, numerous empirical studies, books, screening and assessment tools for early identification and evaluation, a widely used diagnostic criteria (Diagnostic Classification of Mental Health and Developmental Disorders of Infancy and Early Childhood [DC:0-3R]), and parent-infant treatment approaches, as well as practice parameters (American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry).
With appropriate early intervention services, social and emotional disturbances that emerge early in life can be ameliorated before they become more serious disorders. Wisconsin has an imperative need for professionals with specialized training aimed at supporting the development of healthy relationships and at addressing disorders of infancy and early childhood.
The Wisconsin Infant, Early Childhood and Family Mental Health Certificate Program is grounded in the principles of Infant Mental Health and informed by current empirical knowledge from affective and behavioral neuroscience, research on early attachment relationships and healthy social and emotional development.