How do I get started?
Some applicants find it useful to use the Getting Started Form to compile all of their relevant Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health trainings, work experience and education so they can more easily cross reference them to a particular competency. It can make inputting the information easier. Applicants can also refer to the webinars or contact the Endorsement Coordinator for more information.
How much does Endorsement® cost?
The costs for IMH/ECMH Specialist and IMH/ECMH Mentor are in line with credentialing fees that have been established by other professional organizations, e.g. CDA (Child Development Associate) and ACSW (Accreditation for Certified Social Workers). The credentialing fees support the overhead costs of the CT-AIMH Endorsement® and allow us to have applications and tests carefully reviewed.
|Category I: Infant Family Associate or Early Childhood Family Associate||$15||$25|
|Category II: Infant Family Specialist or Early Childhood Family Specialist||$15||$100|
|Category III: Infant Mental Health Specialist or Early Childhood Mental Health Specialist||$25||$300|
|Category IV: Infant Mental Health Mentor (Clinical) or Early Childhood Mental Health
|Category IV: Infant Mental Health Mentor (Policy) or Early Childhood Mental Health Mentor
|Category IV: Infant Mental Health Mentor (Research/Faculty) or Early Childhood Mental
Health Mentor (Research/Faculty)
How long does it take to apply for Endorsement®?
CT-AIMH requires that applicants register on EASy a minimum of four weeks before an intended submission date. This ensures enough time for receipt and upload of transcripts, completion of reference ratings, and thorough entries related to applicant’s specialized work, in-service training, and RS/C experiences.
The time that it takes to complete your application will depend largely on your work, supervision and training experiences in addition to the Endorsement® for which you are applying.
How do I receive CT-AIMH confirmation of successful registration on EASy?
CT-AIMH Endorsement Coordinator will confirm that you registered on EASy at the appropriate Endorsement®, paid the EASy registration fee, and are an active member of CT-AIMH. Upon confirmation, the CT-AIMH Endorsement Coordinator will email you.
How do I ask for help while completing the Endorsement® process?
If you have questions while in EASy, select the “Help” button in the top right-hand corner. Applicants can indicate whether the issue is technical or related to the endorsement process. There are also comment sections on most pages where applicants can ask questions or leave remarks. If you have other questions, unrelated to EASy, please email the Endorsement Coordinator.
What happens after I submit my Endorsement® application?
All applications are carefully reviewed by two trained volunteers who have earned Endorsement®. After examining your official transcripts, the reference rating forms, and your lists of specialized work, in-service training, and reflective supervision/consultation experiences, each reviewer will make recommendations about whether to endorse or to approve you to sit for the Endorsement® exam or may suggest that you pursue further training and/or reflective supervision and then be re-reviewed after a period of time.
What is the value of a Competency-Based System of Endorsement®?
Endorsement® is valuable because:
- Endorsement® provides a set of competencies for professional development in the infant, early childhood, and family field.
- Endorsement® assures that persons providing culturally sensitive, relationship-focused services promoting infant and early childhood mental health meet standards that are approved by a highly recognized professional organization for the discipline of infant mental health or early childhood mental health.
- Endorsement® recognizes the importance of continuing education and training for professionals in the infant, early childhood, and family field. Those who earn the Endorsement® demonstrate their commitment to this principle as they provide services that promote infant and early childhood mental health with a high level of quality and integrity.
What benefit is there if I’ve earned a certificate in infant mental health?
Graduates from a college or university program or post-graduate certificate program in infant mental health or early childhood mental health must submit documentation of completion of the program, such as a copy of diploma or certificate. Certificate holders may find that their course work has documented their competency in all of the knowledge and skill areas under Theoretical Foundations and Direct Service Skills as defined for Infant/Early Childhood Family Specialist or IMH/ECMH Specialist. The approved competencies vary from program to program. Please contact Endorsement Coordinator for more details.
Although most of the competencies are documented by the completion of a university-based certificate in IMH or ECMH, certificate holders who apply for endorsement must still include at least 30 hours of specialized in-service training.
Specialized In-Service Training
I have attended well over 30 hours of in-service training; should I submit every in-service training I’ve ever attended?
All in-service training hours that meet criteria toward Endorsement® must be related to the CT-AIMH Competency Guidelines®. Be sure to list which specific knowledge or skill area is covered at each training, e.g., attachment, separation and loss, cultural competence, etc. For a training to count toward Endorsement®, at least one competency must have been covered. It is important to remember that Endorsement® reflects training specialization in the promotion of culturally sensitive, relationship-based practice promoting social and emotional well-being in the first years of life or infant and early childhood mental health.
Although the minimum requirement is 30 hours, we expect Endorsement® applicants to document that they have achieved competency in almost all of the categories via college course work, on-the-job training, in-service opportunities and reflective supervision/consultation.
To demonstrate that the full range of competencies have been covered:
• Most IFA/ECFA applicants submit an average of 45 hours of in-service training experiences.
• Most IFS/ECFS applicants submit an average of 60 hours of in-service training experiences.
• Most IMHS/ECMHS applicants submit an average of 75 hours of in-service training experiences.
• Most IMHM/ECMHM applicants submit an average of 90 hours of in-service training experiences.
How do I know when my EASy application demonstrates enough to show a competency area has been met?
This varies greatly depending on many factors including how long ago you took college courses, how specific the course or training is to infant or early childhood mental health, number of hours, etc.
A minimum of two trained application reviewers carefully examine all the material in your application including college transcripts, in-service training record, and reference rating forms. Application reviewers will be looking most closely at the competency areas under Theoretical Foundations, Direct Service Skills, and Reflection. For the areas of Theoretical Foundations (including pregnancy & early parenthood; infant/very young child development & behavior; attachment, separation, trauma, & loss; cultural competence; etc.) and the areas of Direct Service Skills (including observation & listening; screening & assessment; etc.) competency must be documented by course work and/or in-service training. That is, work experience alone is not enough to document competency in areas such as attachment, separation, trauma & loss, or screening & assessment.
How far back can I go when including trainings that meet criteria for Endorsement?
There is no limit on how long ago the training was attended to be counted toward requirements. Some applicants may have been in the field for many years and are encouraged to include all the trainings that have shaped their practice in infant, early childhood-family work. However, it is not necessary to submit a comprehensive list of every training ever attended. The list should reflect a balance of breadth and depth across the competencies and the promotion of infant or early childhood mental health.
Are only CT-AIMH sponsored trainings eligible for Endorsement®?
The training does not need to be sponsored by CT-AIMH to be eligible to count toward your minimum for Endorsement®. In fact, many trainings that you attend for professional licensing or agency requirements may also qualify for Endorsement® (for example an ethics training for social workers, Early On training about family-centered planning, or doula training, to name only a few).
A specialized training that is eligible for Endorsement® should meet the following criteria:
- Is culturally sensitive, relationship-focused and promotes infant or early childhood mental health
- Relates to one or more of the competencies in the Competency Guidelines®
- Is specific to the Endorsement® for which you are applying
Are there any in-service trainings, conferences or courses that are mandatory while working toward Endorsement®?
No, however, we strongly recommend that you carefully review the Competency Guidelines® to identify the skill and knowledge areas for the Endorsement® for which you are applying. We expect applicants to document competency in these areas either through college course work, on-the-job training, in-service opportunities and reflective supervision/consultation. It is important to seek out in-service training/conference offerings that will fill in any competency gaps you might have. Some skill areas (such as empathy and compassion, self-awareness) will be documented in the three reference ratings that you will include with your application.
CT-AIMH offers an optional self-study form called the Getting Started Guide that can help you identify your competency strengths and gaps. Trainings that might not meet criteria would be focused primarily on school-aged children, adolescents or the elderly.
I heard from a colleague that I could count only one conference in my Endorsement® application; is that true?
Applicants must list a minimum of 30 hours of relevant in-service training. Applicants are encouraged to include all relevant conferences that they have attended, but only one conference (with many workshops) may be counted toward the 30-hour minimum. CT-AIMH recognizes that conferences are an important way to be exposed to new material, but believes a balance with lengthier, more intense in-services of six hours or more helps to build skills.
Specialized Work Experience
What is the difference between the specialized work experiences that meet criteria for IFS/ECFS and IMHS/ECMHS?
Infant Family Specialist (IFS) or Early Childhood Family Specialist (ECFS) work experience is typically broader and encompasses many of the ways that applicants might work with the families of infants and toddlers including case management, Part C service coordination, parent education, and family support.
Infant Mental Health Specialist (IMHS) or Early Childhood Mental Health Specialist (ECMHS) work experiences are often (but not always) home-based and include the following interventions: advocacy, developmental guidance, emotional support, concrete assistance, and parent-infant/very young child relationship-based therapies and practices. These therapies and practices are intended to explore issues related to attachment, separation, trauma, and unresolved losses as they affect the development, behavior and care of the infant/very young child. The therapies and practices may include but are not limited to parent-infant psychotherapy, interaction guidance, and child-parent psychotherapy. Competence as an IMHS or ECMHS builds with supervised work experience over time with services delivered to the families of infants and toddlers and/or children 3-6 years that are relationship-focused and culturally sensitive with an emphasis on examining the role of relationships in reflective supervision.
I am Bachelor’s prepared and work in an infant/toddler or early childhood classroom. I receive reflective supervision regarding the infants/toddlers or young children and their families. Do I qualify for IFS/ECFS?
CT-AIMH does not count classroom experience toward the specialized work experience requirement for IFS/ECFS mainly because, while a focus on social emotional development is one of the roles, it is not the primary role of an infant/toddler teacher. Quality early care and education settings certainly use opportunities in the daily routine to promote social and emotional development, but are also charged with feeding, diapering/toileting, care, safety, and curriculum development that promotes all domains of development. The primary work of most early care & education settings is not supporting the relationships that surround the infant/toddler or young children. It is our hope that early care & education providers, especially those who pursue and earn Endorsement®, do work with infant and early childhood mental health principles in mind, which is why the competencies that are required for IFA/ECFA are nearly identical to those required for IFS/ECFS. Experience in an early care & education setting is valuable and can be counted toward meeting the requirements for CT-AIMH Endorsement® as an IFA/ECFA.
How many infants or toddlers do I need to work with to meet the specialized work criteria?
CT-AIMH believes that Endorsement® applicants should have enough experience with infants/toddlers or young children so that the persons who complete the reference rating forms can confidently answer questions about the applicant’s knowledge and skills related to the promotion/practice of infant or early childhood mental health.
Minimum two years paid, post Bachelor’s, professional work experience providing prevention and/or early intervention services that promote infant mental health or early childhood mental health. Work experience meets this criterion as long as the applicant has:
- Served a minimum of 10 families of infants/toddlers (birth to 36 months) and/or children 3-6 years and,
- A primary focus of the services provided is the social-emotional needs of infant/toddler and/or children 3-6 years and,
- Services include attention to the relationships surrounding the infant/toddler and/or children 3-6 years
Does work experience with pregnant women and families count towards the work experience requirement for IFS and IMHS?
Yes, work with pregnant women and families does count towards the required work experience for IFS and IMHS. However, the applicant’s work experience must ALSO include work with infants, toddlers, and their families.
Using the IMH-E® or ECMH-E® Mark
How do I indicate that I have earned the CT-AIMH Endorsement®?
The IMH-E® or ECMH-E®mark indicates that a person has earned Endorsement®. Use of the registered trademark is important (whenever possible) to distinguish from other systems of “endorsement.”
Jane Doe, MSW, LMSW, IMH-E®
Infant Mental Health Specialist
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