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  • 17 Dec 2021 by Jackie Romillo

    FAIMH’s rich 21-year history is one of its core strengths. In recent years, FAIMH’s Board of Directors has presided over a remarkable period of growth:

    • FAIMH has more than 650 FAIMH members,
    • 100 IMH Professionals have earned our Florida IMH Endorsement, and
    • Over 250 IMH Professionals attended a FAIMH Training Academy course.

    Managing such growth with an all-volunteer Board of Directors, particularly during a pandemic, has been challenging. In 2020, the Board of Directors voted to pursue hiring an Executive Director to help lead FAIMH forward. Our Board anticipates continued growth and has overseen a structured approach to step into this next phase of our Association’s development. Over the last year, we went through a rigorous process that included updating our By-Laws, defining the Executive Director role and job description, budgeting to support the Executive Director’s salary, and creating a rigorous screening and interview process. We issued a call for applications and received dozens of applications for the position and used a systematic process to narrow the group down to five finalists, four of whom had only limited knowledge of IMH or experience with FAIMH, and all of whom had relevant work experience, outstanding credentials, and engaging personalities. FAIMH’s Executive Committee interviewed each applicant twice, independently scored applications using preset criteria, and then used a structured consensus-building approach to identify our top applicant. This applicant was then presented to the full Board for vetting and discussion and was voted in as FAIMH’s very first Executive Director.

    We have selected Dr. Christine Hughes as FAIMH’s first Executive Director. Among Christine’s many strengths is her knowledge of our organization, having served three consecutive terms on the Board of Directors, as Communications Coordinator since 2020 and later as FAIMH’s Training Academy Coordinator, and as a Chapter Chair and Co-Chair for many years. Christine was the recipient of FAIMH’s 2020 President’s Award for her leadership and service. Christine is trained as a developmental psychologist and is one of only two professionals in Florida endorsed as a Policy Mentor.

    Christine is passionate about Infant Mental Health and possesses a unique combination of skills to help lead FAIMH Forward with the full support of the Board of Directors. Christine believes deeply that supporting the important adults in young children’s lives can change the course of those children’s lives. FAIMH’s mission speaks urgently to her and she has demonstrated that through her service and commitment. We are enthusiastic about this milestone in FAIMH’s history and look forward to what the future holds.

    I would like to thank the Board of Directors for their support and unwavering commitment, especially the Executive Committee for countless hours of work to help make this day a reality. It is an honor to serve as the President of the Board and to welcome Dr. Christine Hughes as our First FAIMH Executive Director.

    In service,


    President, Board of Directors

  • 14 Dec 2021 by Christine Hughes

    Celebrate the Impact of our 2021 Award Winners!

    Join us on Thursday 12/16 at 12:30pm EST via Zoom

    FAIMH recognizes and honors the the leadership, partnership, and support of this year's award winners, now and throughout our 21 years.

    At our annual Awards & Year-End virtual event this week, we will celebrate and offer our thanks to them together as a community of IMH professionals and supporters. Please join us in uplifting their passion, dedication and impact on children and families in Florida.

    Still haven't RSVPed? It's quick and easy at this link. See you Thursday!

  • 23 Nov 2021 by Christine Hughes
    The Graduate Certificate in Infant-Family Mental Health is designed for individuals who are interested in gaining knowledge, skills and connections to become powerful change agents for infant-family mental health in the systems and communities where they live and work.  It is a certificate appropriate for students who have earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology, social work, criminology, human development, early childhood education, nursing or other social science-related fields, and will benefit practitioners in allied health professions and social and behavioral sciences. The Certificate does not provide specialized clinical training in specific forms or modalities of intervention, but rather provides broad coverage of knowledge necessary for informed and competent work in early childhood mental health, prenatal and health-related positions, child protection and child welfare positions, and other fields working with families of infants and toddlers. Certificate emphases include theoretical/conceptual and applied issues relating to:
    • Coparenting
    • Cultural Diversity and Humility
    • Observation and Assessment
    • Triadic and Family-focused Intervention
    • Risk and Resiliency
    • Reflective Practice
    • Systems and Community Change

    Here's the direct link to apply: VZ CollegeApp: USF: Apply Now!

    Questions? Contact Ebony Miller ASAP at

    Graduate Certificate Admissions and Process

    Students must apply and be admitted into the Graduate Certificate to be eligible to receive a Graduate Certificate. Applicants are encouraged to contact the Graduate Certificate Director prior to applying. 

    Applicants must meet the following admission requirements:

    1. University Admission Requirements, including English Proficiency   
    2. Graduate Certificate Admission Requirements   

    Curriculum Requirements (12 Credit Hours)

  • 28 Oct 2021 by Christine Hughes

    We have an opportunity to elevate the visibility of IECMH policy needs in Congress! As you may know, there's lots of exciting action on mental health in the Senate right now. 

    Why is FAIMH sending you a Policy Alert? One set of IMH competencies that we aim for all IMH professionals to meet is Law, Regulation and Agency Policy. Additionally, there is an Endorsement category specifically for those who work in policy and advocacy--the Infant Mental Health Mentor-Policy (IMHM-P). Florida and FAIMH are fortunate to have two Policy Mentors, Dr. Christine Hughes and Dr. Allison Parish, to help keep us informed on important policies in need of advocacy and action.

    The turnaround time for this request is tight (Monday Nov. 1), but these issues are critical to IMH professionals in the US, and many are directly aligned with the work each of you is doing, promoting, and advocating for in Florida.

    Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and Finance Committee Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) have launched an effort to develop bipartisan legislation to address barriers to mental health care, and they've issued a request for input from the field. Their letter requests evidence-based solutions and ideas to enhance behavioral health care in the following areas (sections a-e below). That's where you come in!

    Please email your recommendations. We’ve added some notes about infant/early childhood mental health (IECMH) issues that come to mind for us in these categories to get your ideas flowing, but we encourage you to draw from your experience--this is an opportunity to give real-world context to promising innovations and solutions.

    In their letter, Sens. Wyden and Crapo ask about...
    a. Strengthening the workforce – The Senators need to understand that the IECMH workforce is a specialized and necessary one. The Alliance, Zero to Three, and Associations for Infant Mental Health around the nation are encouraging the Senate to invest in the IECMH workforce and establish the IECMH clinical workforce development program introduced in the RISE from Trauma Act. This must include supporting high-quality, competency-based training and professional development, as well as support for professionals earning the Florida Endorsement for Culturally Relevant, Relationship-Focused Practice Promoting Infant and Early Childhood Mental Heath®.

    b. Increasing integration, coordination and access to care – This is a great place to highlight the value of mental health consultation across settings including child care, home visiting, early intervention, primary care, and child welfare, as well as integrated behavioral health in pediatrics, obstetrics, and family health settings. This is another place to promote the importance of Florida's Endorsement for Culturally Relevant, Relationship-Focused Practice Promoting Infant and Early Childhood Mental Heath®. Earning IMH Endorsement should be expected of everyone serving infants, young children and/or their families--not only mental health clinicians. There are several categories in which a professional can earn Florida's IMH Endorsement, and therefore, professionals across disciplines should be supported in earning it if they are serving children under 5 years and their families.

    c. Ensuring parity between behavioral and physical health care – Examples from Florida's professionals about the lack and importance of parity are valuable in painting a picture. We know, based on our current understanding of brain and developmental science, that no matter what you call it--mental health, emotional health, relational health--it matters and it matters MOST in the early years. The ACEs research shows us that the way that we develop mentally, emotionally and relationally is critical to our growth and health lifelong. Our healthcare and health insurance systems must change to ensure that preventative mental and emotional health is just as important as preventative physical health, and intervention and treatment of mental and emotional health concerns is just as important as the treatment of physical health concerns.

    d. Furthering the use of telehealth – So many states have great learnings from the past year and a half about how telehealth can work for young kids, and what limitations Congress should be mindful of for IECMH services. Psychological services access programs, consultation, and other innovations in telehealth for IECMH are valuable to promote and grow. You might describe, based on your experience, how telehealth could be best used with families with young children, perhaps highlighting more access to populations who otherwise would or could not access traditional in-person care, or ways that we could expand telehealth to other populations that would keep them connected to care during transitions (e.g. the transition home from the hospital after a birth).

    e. Improving access to behavioral health care for children and young people – We need to make sure the Senate understands that infants, toddlers, and young children are part of the population that needs to be served, and that they have a right to developmentally appropriate services that meet their unique needs!  They also need to hear that caregiver mental health, including perinatal mental health, is essential. This is a great opportunity to show them innovative ideas for providing services to young children and whole families. This is a chance to highlight that the needs of professionals must be addressed and supported, too. The direct service that IECMH professionals does is hard and can be traumatizing; professionals deserve support to ensure they are providing the best services they can to our youngest residents and their families.

    Please set aside time before Monday Nov. 1st to send your input. The more people the Senate hears from, the most seriously they will take these requests to consider infant and early childhood mental healthcare a critical part of this overall initiative. You can read the letter for more detail in their request, and more about this initiative here. You must submit your response to by Monday November 1st. 

    Thank you for taking this time to be an advocate for Florida's future!

  • 27 Oct 2021 by Christine Hughes

    Today, FAIMH celebrates YOU!

    You've heard from us a lot this week, so we'll keep this email brief. THANK YOU.

    For all that you do, for the time you spend, for ways that you sacrifice, for the passion and drive you have to do better for our babies and their families, for the effort it takes, for the commitments you keep, for the fact that you are still here and still showing up for your fellow professionals when our community is called together. Thank you.

    This Celebrate Babies Week, designed by FAIMH's incredible leader Dr. Harleen Hutchinson, has been a time for us to re-ignite the passion, reconnect to our purpose, and come together to share the joy, the challenges and the appreciation that we all have for each other as colleagues.

    Please take time to watch the videos that were sent in from professionals and organizations all over Florida to share how they celebrate babies and how they celebrate all of us professionals....and know that you are valued, appreciated, and celebrated.

    View our 2021 Celebrate Babies Week videos

    Missed our 2021 Celebrate Babies Week IMH Conversation? View the recording.

  • 21 Oct 2021 by Christine Hughes

    Today's post offers us a reflection on how to "keep the baby in mind" from Past President Dr. Anne Hogan

    Keeping the Baby in Mind – Learn by Watching Their Interest!

    Do you remember falling in love? How you wanted to know all the things they liked?  Whether it was a song, a snack, a movie, or a game! If they paid attention to it, you wanted to pay attention too. 

    Little babies can have a hard time following your interests, but you can show your love and help them learn by following theirs

    Their emotions are great indicators. What do they like? How can you tell? The more you know what your baby likes, the easier it will be to keep them in mind. 

    Watch for babies’ signs of interest. Interest is an important emotion that organizes their learning from the first days of life. You know your baby best when you are tuned in to what they like to look at, like to listen to, like to touch and explore. They don’t need words -You can sure see and hear it.

    Babies show their interest by leaning in, looking longer, smiling or vocalizing with “happy baby sounds.”

    Of course, you are of special interest, but many things catch their interests, too. Watch for and share in their interests. Those moments of sharing will help you both enjoy the now, and remember the fun.

    Reflective practice is a cornerstone of infant mental health practice. It allows the professional an opportunity to step back from the immediate, intense experience of work with (or on behalf of) infants, young children and families. It give us the time and space to consider what the experience means to the professional (themselves), the child and the family. When we use reflective practice, we notice & examine our emotions, experiences, actions, and responses, and can use that insight to guide our next steps in the work. Growing our reflective capacity is critical for us as professionals who work with infants, young children, and families, because it can provide a more grounded understanding of our work as well strengthen our own resilience.


  • 20 Oct 2021 by Christine Hughes

    Wednesday October 20th

    Today's post is written by Miami Chapter Chair, Noemi Marquez, LCSW

    As infant mental health professionals, we strive to support and strengthen every child and family we serve, no matter who they are, where they are from, what they look like or how different they are from us. In order to build more diverse, inclusive and equitable organizations, programs and services, we embed the Diversity Informed Tenets for Work with Infants, Children and Families into our everyday lives and work with infants, children and families, or our programmatic management or organizational administration. This starts with aspiration, intentional practice and individual and collective commitment. The Tenets Initiative helps people, organizations, and systems of care by offering a set of aspirational principles which we can all work towards.

    Here are some practical examples of how we can implement these tenets into our daily lives and work regardless of how we serve babies, children and their families.

    1. Self-Awareness Leads to Better Services for Families

    • making intentional, protected time every week for reflection on the families we serve and how our own experiences affects that work.

    • Making time every day to be self-aware of how we are feeling and in attempt to not allow our feelings to get in the way of our service.  

    2. Champion Children’s Rights Globally

    • When we are watching the news, pay attention how issues are affecting children’s rights and talk about it with our family and friends.

    • If you feel passionate about a children’s rights issue, get involved, even if that looks like volunteering a little bit of your time or signing a petition.  

    3. Work to Acknowledge Privilege and Combat Discrimination

    • Work on better understanding our own identity and the various facets where we may experience privilege so we can become more mindful as to how we interact we others.

    • Privilege can be experienced in the context of: race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, social class, beauty, weight, age, education, health or disability status, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

    • Bring to mind that we have multiple identities and folks can have intersecting marginalized identities therefore compounding the impact of negative experiences.

    4. Recognize and Respect Non-Dominant Bodies of Knowledge

    • Let us be on the lookout to praise others as folks are wise in their own experiences.

    • Knowledge and information do not only come from academia and research, but also from the families we serve and our colleagues.  

    5. Honor Diverse Family Structures

    • There are many types of family structures: single-parent families, same-sex parent families, multi-racial homes, families created by adoption and many more.

    • Each family structure is special and valuable, and we can work on respecting and honoring families for their own unique characteristics.  

    6. Understand That Language Can Hurt or Heal

    • The words we use can intentionally or unintentionally discriminate others.

    • We can be intentional about saying kind things to those around us.

    • We can take time to listen to understand where others are coming from so that we can intentionally keep that in mind while we speak with others.  

    7. Support Families in Their Preferred Language

    • We seek to hire staff that match the culture of the community we serve and that can talk to our children and families in their preferred language.

    • Recognize that children and families who speak multiple languages or language different than ours bring important strengths and experiences that should be valued and celebrated.  

    8. Allocate Resources to Systems Change

    • We can give of our time to change the bigger systems, but we can also dedicate the resources we have control of toward making change.

    • We can focus on spending the resource of time and continuing education toward learning more about diversity, equity and inclusion and how to apply it in our homes, workplaces and communities.  

    9. Make Space and Open Pathways

    • Purposely open job opportunities and leadership opportunities to persons base on their talents, especially those that are historically underrepresented, marginalized and oppressed.

    • We can also do this in other aspects of our life, too, with our peers, personal causes, our families and children.  

    10. Advance Policy That Supports All Families

    • When we hear policy, we think of politics and government. We can work on those, but we can also work on a smaller scale within our own program or services--examining the policies your program/services may have around eligibility, service provision, or discontinuation of services to identify any policies that overly burden some participants but not others. 

    • Let’s take an honest reflective assessment of our own programs and be creative as to how we can adjust our policies and everyday behaviors to support all families regardless of identity. It can start with how you individually treat the babies, children, and families that you work with.

    For more information about the Diversity Informed Tenets, visit 


  • 20 Oct 2021 by Christine Hughes

    Tuesday October 19th

    Today's post to share is written by Past President Neil W. Boris, MD

    The British psychiatrist John Bowbly, often considered “the father of attachment theory,” wrote this in the first volume of his seminal trilogy of books on attachment: "Intimate attachments to other human beings are the hub around which a person's life revolves, not only as an infant or a toddler or a schoolchild but throughout adolescence and years of maturity as well, and on into old age. From these intimate attachments a person draws strength and enjoyment of life and, through what he or she contributes, gives strength and enjoyment to others. These are matters about which current science and traditional wisdom are at one." (Bowlby, J. (1980) Attachment and Loss: Volume 1. Attachment. Basic Books: New York. Note: words in italics added).  


    I believe Bowlby’s words have profound implications for those of us in the helping professions—those of us working with families facing struggles, families needing strength.  Bowlby’s words suggest that by creating relationships, and then using those relationships to contribute something to others, we are leveraging science and wisdom at once.  How cool is that?!

    Because relationships are central to infant mental health practice, this week we also celebrate YOU, the professionals who work with, or on behalf of, babies and their families in Florida!

    As an important adult in a child's life--whether you are a child care teacher, an Infant/Toddler Developmental Specialist, therapist or perhaps an administrator of a program that serves babies & families--you make a positive impact through your relationships built and sustained over time.

    And, four decades after Bowlby wrote those words Dr. Boris reflects on above, it does appear that both science and wisdom agree!

    Don't forget to RSVP for tomorrow's Celebrate Babies IMH Conversation!

    Weds. October 20th via Zoom at 12pm Eastern/ 11am Central

  • 18 Oct 2021 by Christine Hughes


    Monday October 18th

    FAIMH's mission is to support & strengthen the infant mental health workforce in Florida....but what makes an infant mental health community?

    Infant Mental Health professionals are professionals who use reflective practice to "hold the baby in mind" in all we do. We promote relationship-based practices and service, and understand the importance of every day experiences, serve-and-return interactions and responsive caregiving practices to best support the healthy brain development of infants and young children. We support and serve the parents and family together with the infant or child, since babies grow in the context of family, community and culture, using the Diversity Informed Tenets for Work with Infants, Children and Families. IMH work may be universal promotion, targeted prevention, or the treatment and healing of the effects of trauma experienced by babies and young children.


    We serve in a diverse array of fields, including early care & education, early intervention, child welfare, mental health, social work, psychology, psychiatry, pediatric healthcare and the allied health professions.


    Our FAIMH community includes students studying in these fields, early care and education providers caring for our community's children, early intervention and developmental specialists, mental health providers, case managers and care coordinators, IECMH consultants, healthcare professionals, allied health professionals (physical, occupational & speech/feeding therapists), program specialists, managers and administrators of programs that serve children & families, as well as legislators and systems-level policymakers whose decisions impact the lives of young children and their families. FAIMH members represent a multitude of roles and organizations which all serve infants, young children and their families in various capacities across Florida.


    Who is considered an Infant Mental Health (IMH) Professional?

    • Early learning (child care) providers
    • Home visitors, care coordinators, case managers and other direct service staff
    • Infant mental health practitioners (licensed mental health providers)
    • Developmental psychologists and psychiatrists
    • Coordinating agency staff and leaders (Healthy Start Coalitions, Early Learning Coalitions, Children's Services Councils)
    • Early intervention providers, program staff and leaders (Early Steps)
    • Prenatal and women’s health care providers
    • Pediatricians and nurses (in Mother-Baby units, NICU & PICUs)
    • Community health practitioners
    • Program administrators of programs that serve children 0-5 and their families
    • System leaders whose decisions impact Florida's youngest children and families

    We are dedicated to nurturing the wellbeing of Florida's infants, children and families by supporting and strengthening the infant mental health workforce--that's YOU! 

    Whether you provide direct service to infants, young children and/or their families, or are an administrator or leader that creates programs and policies that impact Florida's most vulnerable families, if you support relationship-based, responsive care and services, and you use reflective practice to hold the baby in mind in all aspects of your work, then you ARE part of our infant mental health workforce!

    Let us come together as one diverse community, connected by our shared purpose and goal of creating a Florida where every child is emotionally healthy, equipped to learn, and nurtured to develop their full potential.

    Don't forget to RSVP for our Celebrate Babies IMH Conversation!

    Weds. October 20th via Zoom at 12pm Eastern/ 11am Central


  • 16 Sep 2021 by Christine Hughes

    We are deeply saddened by the passing of one of our strongest champions and leaders, Dr. Wil Blechman. For many of us professionals, he was a constant inspiration in our work educating, supporting and advocating on behalf of the youngest Floridians and the important adults in their lives--both parents and professionals. For FAIMH, he was a pillar of leadership and service, and a huge part of why we exist today.

    FAIMH will forever be connected to Dr. Blechman's legacy of care for young children and families. Wil served as our Founding President of FAIMH when we incorporated in 2000, and continued to serve as a member of Committees, Workgroups and his local Miami Chapter. He helped to ensure that Florida had an Association for Infant Mental Health, and was there supporting every turn we took, every accomplishment FAIMH achieved, including the latest launch of FAIMH Training Academy in 2019, which he let us know that he was so proud of because "being able to provide trainings like this was one of the dreams for the future when FAIMH was created.”

    In 2019, FAIMH created the Dr. Wil Blechman President's Award for leadership and vision in advancing and advocating for the wellbeing of Florida's young children and families. This award means a lot to FAIMH, and we look forward to using this award each year moving forward as a way to remember and honor Dr. Blechman even though he is no longer in the room celebrating with us.

    Of course, Dr. Blechman has had a much broader impact than just infant and early childhood mental health in Florida. He was a respected rheumatologist in Miami for more than 30 years, and after his retirement in 1991, he dedicated his life to the cause that we all care deeply about--young children and families. He served Kiwanis for nearly 60 years, first rising through the ranks of his local Club, becoming the Governor of Kiwanis Florida, then becoming a Board Member, and later, President of Kiwanis International. All through his growing impact on children and families globally, Dr. Blechman kept his focus on Florida, serving on the Board of The Children's Forum in Tallahassee, The Children's Trust in Miami-Dade, and the United Way of Miami-Dade Center for Excellence in Early Education, to name a few.

    To join us in remembering the incredible impact of our dear Wil Blechman, read his obituary, and one of our favorite articles from 2018 when he won the Chiles Advocacy Award during Florida Children's Week.

    A Celebration of Life will be held at later date, and FAIMH will keep you updated.

    Want to share your condolences or stories you may have of Dr. Wil with his family? We will compile any notes that you would like to share about Dr. Blechman and his impact on you with his wife, Rachel. Just email us with your note that would like us to share with his wife and family. Please send by next Friday Sept. 24th.

    Take care of yourselves, your loved ones, and your colleagues.

  • 07 Jul 2021 by Michelle Becerra

    Proclamation on Advancing Equity in Infant and Early Childhood Systems of Care

    June 2021 

    Advancing racial equity is critical to FAIMH’s mission of supporting and strengthening a diverse infant and early childhood mental health workforce to better serve the young children and families of Florida. To fulfill this mission, we must address systemic racism and implicit bias that creates racial inequities, barriers, and exclusion for infants, young children, their families and the professionals who serve them. As a professional organization that promotes the advancement of infant and early childhood mental health, we will continue to ensure that we are creating a safe and intentional atmosphere that advances full inclusion of professionals and families across all social identities. We believe that we can model cultural humility and a willingness to learn by being accountable for any negative impacts of our own biases during interactions with children, their families and professionals from diverse backgrounds. This will require our dedicated efforts to self-reflect, a willingness to listen to the perspectives of others, and a commitment to continuous learning to improve relationships across all systems.


    As we continue to tackle the root causes of inequities in the infant and early childhood mental health field, we will utilize the Diversity Informed Tenets for Work with Infants, Children and Families as guided principles to better understand the sociocultural and sociopolitical context of our diverse cultures and experiences. As an organization, we are guided by the Tenets because it is rooted in the belief that self-awareness and intentional action are the cornerstones of principles of equity and inclusion. These Tenets provide us with a framework to heal racial trauma and social injustices of all young children, their families and professionals who have experienced a legacy of historical trauma.


    Together, we can ensure that all infants, children, families, and professionals, regardless of their race, or ethnic backgrounds are nurtured, valued, supported and strengthened to achieve equity and social justice. In expressing our solidarity with the Black community through this proclamation, what is most important is what we do as an organization in the years ahead to demonstrate our commitment and dedication in becoming better allies.  Therefore, as an Association, we are committed to the children, families and professionals we serve. We understand that we have a role to play in helping to dismantle interpersonal and institutional racism. As such, we will continue to advance diversity, inclusion and equity work, both inside and outside of our organization, to take action towards lasting change by ensuring that all services are representative and impactful of all racial and ethnic communities. We will continue to ensure that our vision of equitable access is a reality for all children, families and professionals within the infant and early childhood mental health system of care. Together, we can make dreams become a reality for all, as we continue to remember that “we do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” (Native American Proverb)



    Dr. Harleen Hutchinson

    Vice President

    Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging Workgroup

    Led by Dr. Harleen Hutchinson, Vice President of the Board


    FAIMH recognizes and celebrates the role diversity and inclusion play in our organization’s success. For years, we have worked intentionally on expanding our circle to include all professionals who serve infants, young children and families, on ensuring our leadership is diverse, and by supporting the use of the Diversity Informed Tenets for Work with Infants, Children and Families. We seek to continue this work by embracing inclusive relationships with individuals from varied background, cultures, races, identities, life experiences, beliefs and values. We will promote an organizational culture where everyone can thrive and feel a sense of belonging. In doing so, we seek to build our capacity for equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging as we cultivate relational bonds and bridges across Florida that will enable everyone to grow and learn from each other.

    We have created this workgroup to look inward first, at our own organizational structure and processes, affirming our values--the guiding principles which we apply across the organization and underpin how our work is carried out. We believe that through relationships built on respect and integrity fostered by just actions, we can build a truly inclusive community where all feel that they belong, serve Florida with excellence, and create a diverse community by promoting equitable access and opportunities in the infant and early childhood mental health system of care.


    Research has shown that diversity alone doesn't drive inclusion. As you reflect on your organization, how do you create a culture of awareness, authenticity and accountability that drives inclusion and belonging for staff to be their best selves?

  • 25 Jun 2021 by Christine Hughes

    We are a community who comes together as one in times of tragedy.

    Today we hold our fellow community, our fellow families, those in particular, who are suffering the devastation and aftermath of the collapse of the Champlain Towers in Surfside, Florida.

    Below we have included helpful guidance on how to talk with children when scary or sad things happen, as well as a way to donate to those affected by this tragedy.

    How Do We Talk to Children When Scary Things Happen?

    An article from University of Colorado Boulder, published March 2021

    When scary or sad things happen in the world, whether thousands of miles away, in your state, your town, your backyard or your home, kids look to the adults that surround them to help them feel safe and understand what is happening. This can feel tricky and challenging, particularly when the adults themselves are also responding to and making sense of the same experience. 

    The Center for Resilience & Well-Being in Schools at The University of Colorado Boulder, has resources to offer guidance for parents, guardians, teachers or anyone else who is regularly with children. The following is an adapted version of a resource on how to talk with children and youth when scary things happen. Full resources are available at this link

    Here are several helpful tips:

    1. Check in with yourself first

    Before talking with a youth, check in with yourself (How am I feeling? What do I need?) so that you are calm and grounded during the conversation. Just as youth have feelings about these experiences, so do adults. Checking in with yourself first will also help you to be ready to address any questions youth might have. It’s OK not to have all the answers. Your warm, open presence is the most important thing. 

    2. Clarify your goal

    As you approach the conversation, it can be helpful to start with a goal in mind. An overall goal is to create a safe space for youth to share their feelings, questions, reactions and experiences about the scary/sad thing and to feel your support. You might ask yourself, “How might I help my child feel safe?” “Is there some important information for them to know? Is there any misinformation to correct? What might my child already know or think about the situation?” 

    Keep coming back to messages of safety, support and willingness to keep talking. 

    3. Provide information

    Share simple facts and information about what happened and balance it with information about how adults and/or community systems may have stepped forward to help and create safety. Match the type and amount of information to the developmental level of the child. Ask open-ended questions about what they may have already heard and correct any misinformation. Keep this part of the discussion brief, simple and clear. Multiple short conversations can often be more powerful than a single long conversation. 

    4. Ask helpful questions

    Ask helpful questions to learn more about the young person’s thoughts, feelings, perspective and needs. The goal is to gain an understanding of the young person’s experience and not one of “fact finding,” or learning about specific details of a situation. The questions we ask should be open-ended and focused on their experience, emotion and perspective. (“What was that like for you?,” “How are you feeling?,” “What are you thinking/wondering about?,” Do you have any questions or worries?”)

    5. Validate feelings

    Normalize and validate their feelings. It’s okay to feel scared, sad or mad. This doesn’t mean that you’re normalizing the bad thing that happened, but instead you’re affirming that whatever they are feeling is normal and OK. You might say, “That makes sense,” “I understand,” “Other people feel that way, too,” and “You are not alone.” 

    6. Reduce media exposure

    Be aware of how much you are checking the media when you are with youth, and be aware of how much they are tracking the event in the media to monitor and reduce negative impacts. While it is part of our culture to be consistently connected to news and social media, if youth see that you are checking your phone or the television constantly, they may be more likely to do the same.

    Read more: Talking to Children When Scary and Sad Things Happen

    More coping resources from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network

    Please share with your colleagues, friends and family--anyone in your life who might be struggling to know what to say to their children during this time; anyone who wants to know how they can help the survivors.

  • 23 Jun 2021 by Christine Hughes

    From our Partners, the Alliance for the Advancement of Infant Mental Health:

    To simplify the Endorsement process for all professionals trained by Child First, the Alliance and Child First have partnered to develop a co-branded crosswalk across Child First training and the Competency Guidelines for Endorsement for Culturally Sensitive, Relationship-Focused Practice Promoting Infant Mental Health and Early Childhood Mental Health®. 

    Child First has affiliates in Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, and North Carolina (all of which are Alliance states!).  Endorsement Applicants in Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, & North Carolina* can use the Crosswalk NOW!

    Enhancing the infant and early childhood workforce is critical.  The Alliance and Child First Endorsement Crosswalk is one way to support the advancement of professionals in our field by making the process of achieving this credential more accessible.  It is essential that the cross-sector infant, young child and family workforce is IECMH-informed, and the Endorsement process is one way to support this endeavor.  The Alliance is proud to partner with Child First on this initiative to reduce possible barriers to the Endorsement process for staff at Child First affiliate sites.

    Download the crosswalk.

  • 07 Jun 2021 by Christine Hughes

    RIOS™ 1: Using the RIOS™ Framework for Reflective Supervision


    Reflective supervision/consultation (RSC) is a form of ongoing professional development that supports infant and early childhood practitioners in their work and guides them in providing services focused on children’s needs.


    In this three-week online course, 10 clock hours, get an introduction to the principles and core competencies of RSC. Develop a foundation of knowledge about reflective supervision/consultation based in infant mental health theory and practice.


    This course uses the Reflective Interaction Observation Scale (RIOS™) as a framework. This course is a prerequisite for the online course RIOS™ 2: Advanced Reflective Supervision Using the RIOS™ Framework, intended for those currently providing or preparing to provide RSC.


    Summer 2021: June 14 to July 6, 2021. Register by June 7. Cost: $215

    Learning objectives:

    • Gain an understanding of the principles and goals of RSC.

    • Learn the structure of an RSC session.

    • Learn how to describe the topics of conversation and methods of inquiry used in RSC when employing the RIOS™ framework.  

    RIOS™ 2: Advanced Reflective Supervision Using the RIOS™ Framework


    Using the Reflective Interaction Observation Scale (RIOS™) as a framework, you’ll learn about the process of beginning and maintaining a reflective alliance with individuals and groups to help professionals build skills and increase self-efficacy. (28 clock hours)


    Summer 2021: July 12 to August 23, 2021. Register by July 5. Cost: Early bird through June 14: $340; After June 14: $360


    Learning objectives


    Learn about and/or expand your knowledge of:


    • the theoretical foundations of reflective supervision and consultation (RSC)

    • the Reflective Interaction Observation Scale (RIOS™) as a framework for the provision of RSC

    • best practice guidelines for reflective supervision/consultation

    • developing a reflective relationship

    • including race and culture in reflective supervision/consultation

    • cultivating reflective capacity in self and others

    • addressing common supervisory challenges

  • 04 Jun 2021 by Christine Hughes

    Please share with your early learning colleagues, friends, and local networks! FAIMH is proud to be sponsoring FAIMH Leader Noemi Marquez as the Keynote Speaker for all the 2021 Summer Summits:
    The Florida Association for the Education of Young Children (FLAEYC) is offering pop-up summer summits across the state to help early childhood teachers and directors better respond to the changing needs of young children after coping with COVID for more than 12 months. This day-long, in-person professional development opportunity focuses on infant and early childhood mental health strategies for the classroom, communicating with families to empower behavior change, and the ever important concept of self-care using developmentally appropriate practices, including play-based learning.
    The dates and locations are listed below. You can access the online registration portal by clicking the date or the location button below.
    ·         June 12: Panama City
    ·         June 26: Miami
    ·         July 10: Tampa Bay
    FLAEYC is keeping costs low thanks to sponsorship from the Florida Association for Infant Mental Health and local Early Learning Coalitions. FLAEYC is also offering scholarships to any early childhood professional – you do not have to be a FLAEYC member to qualify! This is truly an exciting opportunity to finally reconnect, safely, with peers for a unique learning opportunity that cannot be found anywhere else.  
    All classes are 8:30 am – 4:00 pm local time. The cost is $49 per person and includes lunch (before scholarships). CEUs are also available for a small fee and are FREE to all FLAEYC members.
    If you have questions, you can learn more online or by contacting Holly McPhail, FLAEYC’s Events & Communications Manager, at
  • 28 May 2021 by Christine Hughes

    From our Partners at ZERO TO THREE:

    Whether infants and toddlers are born healthy and with the potential to thrive as they grow greatly depends on their mother’s well-being – not just before birth, but even prior to conception. We are pleased to share a new policy brief, developed in partnership with Child Trends: Racism Creates Inequities in Maternal and Child Health, Even Before Birth.


    To inform maternal and child health policy and practice, this brief applies an even more targeted racial and ethnic equity lens to the review of the data from the State of Babies Yearbook: 2021, and lays out recommendations for policymakers and practitioners to promote equity and improve maternal and child health.


    The State of Babies Yearbook: 2021 shows that, even before the pandemic, our country wasn’t doing enough for our babies to thrive. In every state, significant disparities are hurting the ability for babies and families of color to thrive, often driven by historical and structural inequities. This supplemental report reinforces this understanding, exploring these disparities to better identify areas that warrant further examination and action.

    Looking to dig in even more? Listen to the Maternal and Child Health Panel from the State of Babies Summit!

  • 18 May 2021 by Christine Hughes



    Research shows that ACEs are at the root of many crises our community faces today. Gun violence, domestic abuse, overflowing jails, homelessness, child abuse, addiction, chronic disease, and mental illness are often the adult results of early childhood trauma. 

     “As a society, we simply can't afford to wait for children to fall apart before we do something. From ACEs science, effective strategies have emerged. It’s time to invest in them. NOW.” Renée Layman, Center for Child Counseling. Action now is more important than ever. Strategies to mitigate the consequences of the pandemic on children's mental health is urgent. 

    Leading the FightBarbara Pariente has been a lawyer and a judge in a career spanning over forty-six years. She served as a Justice on the Florida Supreme Court from 1998 until her retirement in January of 2019. During that time she served as Chief Justice; authored over 1000 opinions; participated in cases from Bush v. Gore (the presidential election case) to Terri Schiavo to redistricting following the passage of the Fair District Amendment.

    Her commitment to ensuring that cases involving children and families received the utmost attention in the court system and her advocacy for a fair and impartial judiciary are two of many issues she championed during her twenty-one year tenure on the Court. She is a strong voice for children in our child welfare and juvenile justice systems and often speaks about the impact of ACEs.

    On May 20, 2021, Justice Pariente will facilitate a leader panel as part of an action-oriented, 3-part Lead the Fight series, developed in response to the pandemic by Justice Pariente and our CEO Renée Layman to develop long-term strategies to support children's resilience and well-being.

    RSVP now!


  • 07 Apr 2021 by Christine Hughes


    Telling the story of America’s babies is more important than ever. PLEASE JOIN US!

    The State of Babies Yearbook: 2021 provides an in-depth look into the well-being of our nation's infants and toddlers, and shows that, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the littlest among us did not have the supports they needed to thrive. Because of these disparities, the pandemic has wreaked havoc on babies’ development and families’ stability.


    It is high time we implement policies that will address these barriers and set all our children up for success.

    On April 22 at 2pm EDT, we will bring together three expert panels to tackle the tough issues facing families today and lay out the strong, permanent, national policies that will ensure these families -- and their babies -- have what they need to thrive.


    This year's Summit promises to deliver new insights on what's facing our families, and how we can better support them and their families. 

    Economic Policy


    Even before the pandemic, families with young children lacked access to supports that would help them weather the COVID-19 crisis. What economic policies will help strengthen families?

    Darrick Hamilton


    Hamilton, Ph.D.


    The New School

    Ben Hammond


    Hammond, MA


    Niskanen Center

    Myra  Jones-Taylor


    Jones-Taylor, Ph.D.



    Anna Wadia





    Ford Foundation’s Future of Work(ers)

    Child Care


    Pre-COVID, families and providers struggled with the precarious economics of child care, and the pandemic has intensified that struggle, leaving a system in disarray. How can we build a system that works for all our families?

    Barbara  Chow


    Chow, MA


    Heising-Simons Foundation

    Walter  Gilliam


    Gilliam, Ph.D.


    The Yale University Child Study Center and Edward Zigler Center in Child Development & Social Policy, ZERO TO THREE Board Member

    Jackie Mader


    Mader, MA


    The Hechinger Report

    Jessica Sager


    Sager, J.D.


    All Our Kin

    Maternal and Child Health

    During COVID-19, overall parent and child emotional stress increased, and families report less emotional support and greater isolation. How can we improve the health and well-being of families and their babies?

    Rahil Briggs


    Briggs, PsyD




    Markita Mays


    Mays, LCSW


    The University of California, San Francisco’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Services and Embrace: Perinatal Care for Black Families

    Kerri Schnake


    Schnake, MA


    SC Program for Infant/Toddler Care at University of South Carolina and the SC Infant Mental Health Association

  • 12 Mar 2021 by Christine Hughes

    A Moment to Remember & Reflect

    This week, many of us are marking the one year anniversary of when Florida shut down...our communities were ordered to shelter in place due to the uncontrolled pandemic, and our work moved to virtual operations.

    Anniversaries invite us to remember, and in a year like this, that is a heavy reality. As we reflect upon this anniversary and the experiences of the past year, you may feel renewed grief, overwhelm, or exhaustion. If you are feeling this way, know you are not alone. Know that this is expected. We are all mourning the collective trauma of this year. And we are still experiencing it. We still have loved ones getting sick and too many people dying. We still live with distance from loved ones, isolation, and the complex stresses of our circumstances.

    Many of our leaders and members (many of you!) have been on the front lines of the crises this year. Whatever our role, however we serve our communities throughout Florida--we have, in a year of incredible loss, continued to nurture the bonds of care and love, community and hope. While it is important to remember the sorrows, it is just as important to recognize and celebrate the ways we have shown up for each other, for our communities and for our values as an infant and early childhood mental health community.

    We learned more deeply what it means to center collective care and compassion in our services. We learned to more fully recognize our interdependence and prioritize the needs of those most vulnerable within and beyond our communities. We’ve helped people survive. We’ve cared for  Florida's children and their families. We’ve created reminders of beauty and kindness, and practiced gratitude to sustain us.

    So many of you, and your communities as a whole, have done so much to nurture life and care and hope in this time. May this have a lasting impact on our lives and work, reminding us always of what is most important.


    with care,

    Your FAIMH Family

    Join us on Friday March 19th

    At 12:00 PM EST, we will host a brief time where we can come together, remember those we have lost, honor each other, and allow ourselves to feel the weight of this moment in time--together, in community.

    We will have a time of silence honoring people in our lives we have lost over this year, we will practice a lovingkindness meditation to share wellbeing with ourselves, others, and the world, we will share words upon which to reflect, and we will celebrate our resilience.

    Register here. All are welcome, please share.

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