ZERO TO THREE: Infant, Toddler, and Early Childhood Mental Health Competencies: A Comparison of Systems


In the United States, the past few years have seen heightened interest in and recognition of the mental health needs of infants, toddlers, and young children. Although those who have been working with young children and their families have known it to be true for decades, the general public is slowly coming around to the understanding that our youngest children can suffer from serious mental health disorders, that exposure to physical and emotional trauma during this period can have lasting consequences, and that many children have unmet social and emotional needs—with strong implications for development and learning.1 Recent publications and initiatives have highlighted this increased focus on infant, toddler, and early childhood mental health (ITECMH), such as the special section of an issue of American Psychologist (”Infant Mental Health,” 2011), and an updated paper by the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child (NSCDC, 2008/2012). In addition, heightened interest in the findings from the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study in scientific (Anda, Butchart, Felitti, & Brown, 2010) and popular literature (Tough, 2012) have fueled the drive to understand these needs and offer services to promote child well-being, prevent early mental health challenges from occurring, and if necessary, provide treatment as early as possible.

A Policy Center webinar on June 5 highlighted state-level competency systems to support providers in addressing the mental health needs of young children.


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