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Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health Endorsement® Overview

The Virginia Association for Infant Mental Health (VAIMH) is an interdisciplinary, professional organization established to nurture and promote the optimal development of infants, toddlers, young children, and families through relationship-based training and advocacy efforts. 

Endorsement® through VAIMH is intended to recognize experiences that lead to a competency in the infant/early childhood-family field. It does not replace licensure or certification, but instead is meant as evidence of a specialization in this field. Endorsement® is cross-sector and multidisciplinary, including professionals from child and/or human development, education, nursing, pediatrics, psychiatry, psychology, social work, and others. Endorsement® indicates an individual's efforts to specialize in the promotion and practice of infant or early childhood mental health within his/her own chosen discipline. 

Earning Endorsement® demonstrates that an individual has completed specialized education, work, in-service training, and reflective supervision/consultation experiences (as defined in Endorsement® criteria) that have led to competency in the promotion and/or practice of infant/early childhood mental health. Endorsement® does not guarantee the ability to practice as a mental health professional, although many who have earned Endorsement® are licensed mental health professionals. 

Endorsement® offers career paths that focus on principles, best practice skills, and reflective work experiences that lead to increased confidence and credibility. Endorsement® will inform prospective employers, agencies, and peers about culturally sensitive, relationship-focused practice promoting infant/early childhood mental health.

There are five categories of endorsement, which are tied to an individual's scope of practice. 

1. Infant/Early Childhood Family Associate (IFA/ECFA): Promotion

2. Infant/Early Childhood Family Specialist (IFS/ECFS): Prevention/Early Intervention

3. Infant/Early Childhood Family Reflective Supervisor (IFRS/ECFRS): Prevention/Early Intervention & RSC Provider

4. Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health Specialist (IMHS/ECMHS): Clinical Intervention/Treatment

5. Infant Early Childhood Mental Health Mentor (IMHM/ECMHM): Leaders in the I/EC-family field

a. Clinical: Leader in infant/early childhood mental health (e.g., I/EC mental health supervisor, trainer, or consultant);

b. Policy: Leader in policy and/or program administration related to the infant/young child-family field;

c. Research/Faculty: Leader in university-level teaching and/or published research related to the infant/young child-family field.

Endorsement® is meant to honor professionals who apply infant and early childhood mental health principles to their practice. It is granted through documentation and verification of the required specialized education