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  • 19 Sep 2019 by Christine Hughes Pontier

    Funded by Allegany Franciscan Ministries

    The FAIMH Board of Directors is excited to announce that an idea that has been long in the works has launched as a funded project of FAIMH! Board Vice President Jackie Romillo and Board Member Christine Hughes were proud to lead the Training Academy launch party at the Miami Chapter Meeting on Sept. 11th at our partner site, the United Way of Miami-Dade.

    #TBT Last week FAIMH launched our Training Academy! We celebrated our commitment to building capacity and providing high-quality, relationship-based education and training for professionals working with infants and young children.

    Pictured Left to Right:  Dr. Christine Hughes, Jackie Romillo, Silvia Alvarez McBride, Dr. Harleen Hutchinson, Noemi Aguila-Marquez (Not pictured: Clarissa DeWitt)


    Meet FAIMH's New Training Coordinator & Expert Trainers

    Training Coordinator Noemi Aguila-Marquez, LCSW, IMH-E®

    Noemi Aguila-Marquez, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, is the founder of Counsel & Connect, Inc., and has been in clinical practice since 2003. She is one of the first 22 persons in Florida to be endorsed as a Category IV Infant Mental Health Mentor-Clinical. She provides reflective supervision, professional education and agency consultation regarding infant and early childhood mental health, trauma, and gender & orientation concerns. She is also a Child Parent Psychotherapy practitioner and supervisor, and a Zero to Three DC:0-5 Trainer. Mrs. Aguila-Marquez is completing her doctoral degree in Social Work in Barry University specializing in trauma, child welfare, and transgender children/youth.

    Ms. Aguila-Marquez is FAIMH's Training Coordinator (a new part-time staff position) and will be coordinating and providing expert IECMH training through our FAIMH Training Academy thanks to funding from Allegany Franciscan Ministries.


    Expert Trainer Silvia Alvarez McBride, LMHC, IMH-E®

    Ms. Silvia Alvarez McBride is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and supervisor with clinical expertise in the field of infant and early childhood mental health, and was one of the first in Florida to earn the Florida Infant Mental Health Endorsement. Her work has focused on families referred by the Juvenile Court system following allegations of child neglect, domestic violence, and abuse for nearly twenty years. Ms. Alvarez McBride is the clinical supervisor for the University of Miami Linda Ray Intervention Center Infant and Young Children’s Mental Health Program team, where she also collaborated on the Miami Child Well-Being Court™ Model, a pioneering approach to meeting the relational, emotional, mental health, and developmental needs of young children in care. Ms. Alvarez McBride is a practicing clinical and reflective supervisor in the State of Florida for mental health counseling interns and clinical social work interns, provides infant and early childhood mental health education and training, and is a Zero to Three DC:0-5 Trainer.


    Expert Trainer Dr. Harleen Hutchinson, IMH-E®

    Dr. Harleen Hutchinson is the FAIMH Broward Chapter Chair and Executive Director of The Journey Institute, and was one of the first in Florida to earn the Florida Infant Mental Health Endorsement. She also works collaboratively as a clinician and leader with the Broward County Early Childhood Court. With a background in social work and psychology, Dr. Hutchinson has devoted her career to the clinical practice and research centered on children in the child welfare system exposed to trauma and children prenatally exposed to drugs.  Dr. Hutchinson is trained and nationally endorsed in the evidenced-based model Child Parent Psychotherapy, Parent-Child Interaction Therapy, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Seeking Safety, The Circle of Security, a Becoming Trauma Informed Trainer, and Zero to Three's DC:0-5. Dr. Hutchinson is an adjunct professor with the Barry University School of Social Work, conducts training on topics related to early childhood trauma and attachment, and their impact on the parent-child relationship. She is a current board member of the Broward Healthy Start Coalition. and is recognized as a leader in Reflective Supervision.



    Expert Trainer Clarissa DeWItt, LMHC, IMH-E®

    Clarissa DeWitt, a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Registered Play Therapist, and Certified Circle of Security therapist, is the FAIMH Palm Beach County Co-Chair and the Director of the Center for Child Counseling's Institute for Clinical Training. Ms. DeWitt was one of the first in Florida to earn the Florida Infant Mental Health Endorsement, and has worked with children and families since 2006. She has training in a wide variety of best practice and evidence-based treatment models including Play Therapy, Filial Therapy, Triple P Parenting Program, Infant Mental Health, Child Parent Psychotherapy, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, EMDR and Zero to Three's DC:0-5 . Ms. DeWitt is a member of the American Mental Health Counselor's Association and the Association for Play Therapy, where she is currently co-chair of the Palm Beach/Martin County Chapter.



    Expert Trainer Jackie Romillo, LCSW

    Jackie Romillo, our FAIMH Vice President of the Board of Directors, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and the Administrator of the Early Childhood Development Department at Citrus Health Network. Beginning her career in adolescent substance abuse intervention, Ms. Romillo rose from direct-service provider to Executive Director of a small nonprofit in Little Havana over the course of a decade. In her role at Citrus Health Network since 2007, Jackie has sharpened her focus on infants and young children, is trained in Child Parent Psychotherapy, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Addiction Prevention, Brief Strategic Family Therapy, and Zero to Three's DC:0-5, and is a Qualified Clinical Supervisor. She has built a strong team of infant and early childhood mental health practitioners who support thousands of children and families across Miami-Dade County annually, and has been an integral support to FAIMH since she began as Miami Chapter Chair in 2008, joining the Board in 2014, and becoming our Vice President in 2019.

    2019-2020 Training Academy Opportunities are for FAIMH Members Only

    Become a member--or better yet, have your organization become a member--to ensure you are able to attend these high-quality, relationship-based infant mental heath trainings!

    FAIMH Memberships start at $15 (for students); $15 for child care providers; $50 for individuals (other professionals or IMH supporters)

    FAIMH Agency Memberships start at $100 (for child care providers); $150 for Mental Health Group Practices; $500 for Agencies with budgets under $5 million; $1000 for Agencies with budgets $5-$10 million; $1500 for Agencies with budgets above $10 million.


    Learn more about FAIMH membership or contact us with questions about which membership is best for you!

  • 12 Jun 2019 by Neil Boris

    Greetings FAIMH family! Welcome to the Spring 2019 edition of our Florida Association for Infant Mental Health Newsletter.  As always, there is much to highlight in our shared work for babies and their families.  

    Recently, we were reminded by the 2019 State of Babies report that Florida has a lot of growing to do: if you’re not familiar with this report, please review the findings here:  The State of Babies report makes it clear that Florida is mostly "getting started" in helping our youngest and most vulnerable citizens realize their full potential.  We have work to do.  

    The Board of Directors of FAIMH sees you--our membership--as change agents.  As we build a stronger infant mental health community in Florida, the needs of babies and their families will be recognized.  Together, we can change the State of Babies in Florida!  

    The centerpiece of our collective professional development work is the Florida Infant Mental Health Endorsement (FIMH-E®).  I'm happy to report ongoing progress in rolling out FIMH-E®.  FAIMH's Endorsement Workgroup, a small but mighty team that interfaces directly with the FAIMH Board of Directors, has been steadily guiding our Endorsement efforts.  In the last few months, almost two dozen infant mental health professionals from around Florida have led the way by going through our endorsement process.  I want to personally thank our tireless Endorsement Workgroup as well as those professionals who stepped up to be endorsed for all they’re doing to advance infant mental health in Florida.  The names of these leaders appear below in our Member's Highlight section. You can find out more about Endorsement here:  

    The efforts of our Endorsement team remind me that we are part of an incredible community of professionals.  In October of last year, we had our FIMH-E® kickoff meeting in St. Petersburg.  In the back of the room was one of the great leaders in our Florida mental health community. Herb Quay, aged 90, was there to be with us at our kickoff!  I am sad to report that Herb passed away in March of this year; if you didn’t know Herb, you probably know his wife of 34 years, Anne Hogan, who was on the Board of Directors of FAIMH (as our Past President) when we had the kickoff.  

    Herb was truly a man of letters--an accomplished academic psychologist whose legacy of training professionals in Florida is unrivaled.  For more on Herb's incredible career, please see: ...  We will miss Herb greatly and hold Anne in our collective hearts.

  • 31 May 2019 by Neil Boris

    Honoring our Florida Infant Mental Health Endorsement (FIMH-E®) Pioneers!


    FAIMH Endorsement Workgroup  

    The Team who makes it all happen!

    Lisa Negrini

    Anne Hogan

    Lisa Maddocks

    Debbie Goldberg

    Greg Van Pelt

    Marianna Tutwiler

    Cindy Horwitz


    Leadership Cohort

    The First Floridians to earn IMH Endorsement!

    Clarissa Dewitt

    Cecily Hardin

    Allison Parish

    Greg VanPelt

    Maite Schenker

    Kristie Skoglund

    Christine Hughes Pontier

    Jenna Waterbury


    Advisor/Reviewer Cohort #1

    The First Group of Endorsement Advisors & Reviewers!

    Cindy Horwitz

    Twila Jowers

    Roxanne Mayorca

    Julieta Hernandez

    Veronica Castro

    Harleen Hutchinson

    Silvia Alvarez McBride

    Christine Chaffin

    Noemi Marquez

    Angie Hilken

    Meredith Piazza

    Heidy Garcia

    Kimberly Renk

    Leslie Allen

    Jennifer Black

    If you're interested in learning more about Florida's new Infant Mental Health Endorsement,

    read more or contact us at 

  • 16 Jan 2019 by Brianna Barnebee

    We hope you’ll take a few minutes to read this inaugural Florida Association for Infant Mental Health newsletter. Our goal is to foster stronger connections among our FAIMH community and build capacity in our membership and partners who work to improve the health and wellbeing of children birth to five. We value the work we do together across Florida for vulnerable young children, their families and those who provide needed supports to them. We hope this quarterly newsletter will inform and inspire you: there are so many leaders across our state providing I&ECMH services and working in programs which deserve more attention. Interviews with two such leaders—Allison Parish, IMH-IV and Jackie Romillo, LCSW and our incoming Board VP—are featured in this edition. Read on!

    Neil Boris, MD
    FAIMH Board President

    Read Newsletter

  • 15 Jan 2019 by Brianna Barnebee

    Below is our interview with Allison Parish, IMH-IV. She is a partner and leader in the infant mental health field!

    NB: Allison, the FAIMH Board is so thankful for the funds that the Florida MIECHV Initiative was able to share with us in 2018 to help kick-off the Florida Infant Mental Health Endorsement (FIMH-E) effort. You’ve also stepped up personally and volunteered to be part of our Leadership Cohort for FIMH-E and you’re now officially Endorsed as a Level IV-Policy Mentor! As a past-president of FAIMH, your commitment was no surprise, but I know you’ve got strong feelings about the work we’re doing together. What’s motivating you?

    AP: I’ve always been interested in investing in systems not just programs. And I feel like workforce development in infant mental health here in Florida is really important. As a mom of twins (now 8 years old), I also know what it’s like to manage stress while parenting! But it has really been my work coordinating and supporting Florida’s home visiting programs that has inspired me most. I just feel like the effort to support professionals at all levels who do this work is essential; we’re such a big state…it is time we get serious about growing and supporting our IMH workforce.

    NB: You do have an interesting perspective these days, given your oversight of Florida’s MIECHV home visiting programs and the Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems grant. Some organizations use masters level professionals and others rely on paraprofessionals, but all serve families at risk. I’d be interested in your perspective about what folks need to do this kind of frontline work…

    AP: First of all, I feel like anyone working with kids and families needs to know more about infant mental health. Knowing more about the science of social and emotional development helps anyone working with kids of any age. And you don’t need to be a therapist to talk to a parent about their own history in life and to help them sort out ways to focus on their child’s wellbeing. If we give empathetic people good training and ongoing reflective supervision, they can do amazing things.

    NB: Yeah, that’s one thing about the Endorsement system—there’s a focus on folks getting reflective supervision to support them in managing the work—and in not burning out. Speaking of burnout, you are one of those people who wears a bunch of hats! I know one thing that keeps you going is having a job in which you get to learn and do new things. Is there anything you’re working on these days that’s been particularly interesting?

    AP: Yes! While we are great at screening primary caregivers for depression, we’ve struggled to connect families with services when they have a positive depression screen. This could be a lack of available resources or hesitation on the part of the parents. We were hearing that home visitors felt stuck when they knew there was a depressed caregiver and they didn’t think they could do anything about it. In 2018, we partnered with Dr. Darius Tandon at Northwestern University who has created a really helpful curriculum for supporting families, particularly when there are concerns about depression. It is called the Mothers and Babies Program. Mothers and Babies is an evidence-based, interactive program with lessons and activities geared towards promoting healthy mood, parent-child bonding, and strategies for coping with stress. What we like about it is that the home visitors can use these lessons and activities to help caregivers develop more awareness of their feelings and increase their coping skills. It is not a therapeutic intervention, but it can prevent symptoms from escalating and, in some cases, the insight developed through the program helps parents realize they need additional services from a clinician. Our staff are really pleased to have this new tool in their toolbox, and we know it is benefiting the parents and children we serve. They were so excited when they had the opportunity to meet and talk with Dr. Tandon at the recent First 1000 Days Summit.

    Dr. Tandon told me recently, “I am delighted to see Mothers and Babies being used throughout Florida as a tool to promote stronger attachment between mothers and their infants, which is foundational to promoting children’s socio-emotional development.” In 2019, we will continue to promote infant mental health through partnerships like the ones with FAIMH and Northwestern University.

    NB: Allison, thanks for telling our membership about this tool and the work you are doing. And thanks again for your ongoing support of FAIMH. 

  • 15 Jan 2019 by Brianna Barnebee

    Below is our interview with FAIMH VP Jackie Romillo, LCSW. She is a Board Member and leader in our community.

    FAIMH VP Jackie Romillo

    NB: Jackie, I loved what you sent me when I asked you to describe yourself to the FAIMH Board—most of whom already knew you, I might add. Here’s what you told us: “Latina Social Worker with unique sense of humori.e., sarcastic, highly competitive, passionate about making the world a better place, identifies as an agent of change, fiercely committed to justice, focused on empowerment and believes there is never a limit to how much good one can do. Lives by the mantra: We Rise By Lifting Others (Robert Ingersoll).” I’d like to conclude this interview there!

    JR: Glad we could spend this time together.

    NB: In all seriousness, you really have been a change agent in your career and I feel like many infant mental health people gravitate to this field because working with babies means working with change. Tell me more about your path to IMH.

    JR: Fun fact, I actually started as a political science major at FSU, with my sights set on a career in law. You know me, go big on justice and rights or go home! Yet, I had always been equally passionate about psychology, wanting to understand people, their circumstances and driven to help heal. I switched gears, came back to Miami and received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Florida International University. It was the mid-1990’s when I started working in the substance abuse field with adolescents and their families, at a small non-profit in the Little Havana community. Shortly after graduating, I stumbled upon the field of Social Work thanks to a field educator, turned mentor, who I continue to thank to this day. This is where my love of law found a home, in the interconnectedness of social justice, advocacy, policy and direct service- key pillars of social work.

    NB: Wow, so you started with intervention in adolescent substance abuse. That’s challenging work, but I get the connection to justice work…what happened next?

    JR: Well, I completed a master’s in social work at Barry University and over the course of a decade, evolved from a frontline worker to Executive Director of the nonprofit where I got my start. I didn't set out to be a boss, I just wanted to be part of something that really made a difference. In 2007, my journey continued to Citrus Health Network when I fell into infant mental health work. I was hired to implement the first birth-to-five program focused on infant and early childhood mental health consultation to childcare and preschool settings. A few months after starting I was asked to attend a FAIMH Miami Dade Chapter meeting. I was voted in as Co-Chair shortly after. Eventually our programs grew here at Citrus and I became the Administrator for all Early Childhood Development programs. I continued to serve FAIMH faithfully since 2008 bringing awareness, connecting professionals, elevating the quality and competencies of staff and advocating for continued development in the field. I am proud to serve on the Board and excited to work hard as the incoming Vice President.

    NB: Well, we’re thrilled to have you on the Board and now as Vice President, Jackie. I guess this is fair warning to folks: attend a FAIMH chapter meeting, and our organization is likely to pull you in and never let you go! You can find out more about FAIMH Chapters here.