Healthy West Virginia children and families are the Mountain State’s most precious natural resource. Through nurturing and responsive care giving and teaching practices, children can thrive in spite of poverty, isolation, or family circumstances.
All children reach healthy social and emotional development through secure and positive relationships. These consistent, nurturing relationships will build the foundation for future academic success and positive social behavior.
The West Virginia Infant/Toddler Mental Health Association is working to build and support the development of professionals to meet the needs of all West Virginia children and families. Through a nationally recognized set of Early Childhood Mental Health Competencies, those working with and for children will use a shared framework, which focuses on relationship practices and gives a platform to address the social and emotional needs of all children.
As part of the competencies, professionals can seek the Infant Mental Health Endorsement which guides professional growth and recognizes the development of professionals who work with or on behalf of infants, toddlers and families.
What is Infant Toddler Mental Health?
Infant mental health is recognized as the ability of a child, from birth to three, to “experience, regulate and express emotions; form close and secure interpersonal relationships; and explore the environment and learn” (ZERO TO THREE Policy Center, 2004). Another term for infant mental health is social emotional development. These terms are the same. Social emotional development plays an important role in every child’s life.
a. To promote and support nurturing relationships for all infants and toddlers to provide the essential formative context in which every infant and toddler acquires the basic emotional, cognitive, and social capacities and attitudes that influence all later development;
b. To provide an interdisciplinary infant and toddler mental health organization that facilitates, supports, and encourages cooperation, coordination, and collaboration among those concerned with promoting the optimal development of infants and toddlers and their families;
c. To promote the recognition and better understanding of mental health issues for infants and toddlers through the development and implementation of a voluntary endorsement program based on levels of education, training, work experience, and knowledge appropriate to the delivery of high quality, culturally competent, and relationship-focused services to infants and toddlers and their caregivers;
d. To sponsor and promote activities that will enhance the professional capacities of individuals providing relationship-based services to infants and toddlers and their caregivers;
e. To provide a forum for interaction and study among mental health, public health, education, and social services professionals and others regarding scientific, educational, and clinical relationship-based work with infants and toddlers and their caregivers;
f. To provide a forum for promoting the application of infant and toddler mental health principles within services for preschool age children;
g. To publish educational newsletters, journals, and other materials that promote an increased understanding of infant and toddler mental health issues or that are otherwise consistent with the purposes of the Association;
h. To support infant and toddler mental health initiatives by joining other infant mental health associations in the United States as a member of the World Association for Infant Mental Health.
Find out more about the History, Resources for Professionals and Families, and Endorsement process on the website
You can help… by joining the West Virginia Infant/Toddler Mental Health Association, using the Early Childhood Mental Health Competencies as a guideline for best practices with all children, and seeking the Infant Mental Health Endorsement.This program is being presented with financial assistance as a grant from the WV Department of Health and Human Resources.