Below you will find the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about infant and early childhood mental health and the IECMHC Network. If the information you are looking for is not available here, please call our Helpline at 1-877-524-2422.
- Who can receive IECMHC Network services?
- What geographical areas does the IECMHC Network serve?
- What type of background information is needed for the consultation request?
- About how long is consultation provided to early learning and care programs?
- What does consultation look like?
- Can program administrators or leaders receive consultation?
- How will families be involved in the consultation?
- Can families request consultation for the program their child attends?
- What is reflective practice in consultation?
- How can I connect with others in the early learning and care field?
- Can I receive training?
- What is infant and early childhood mental health?
- I need assistance, but I’m not sure where to start.
- What is the Training Program for consultants?
- How can I become a consultant for the IECMHC Network?
Any early learning and care provider in California who provides care for young children ages birth to five and their families are eligible to receive services through the IECMHC Network.
The IECMHC Network serves programs and providers throughout California with a priority on areas that do not currently have access to similar consultation services. When a community offers a similar consultation service, the IECMHC Network will attempt to coordinate with local consultation agencies and programs to help connect early learning and care providers and staff with their local or regional consultation services.
IECMHC Network staff collect initial information through an online request form. Once received, staff then follow up with the requester for a phone conversation that helps to better understand program needs, concerns, and priorities. Information gathered includes the type of program, age range of the children served, issues and concerns, and some demographic information about the classroom or program setting.
Consultation typically ranges between 4–12 sessions. The total number and length of visits or sessions are based on the site’s needs and determined together with program staff, the consultant, and IECMHC Network staff.
Classroom-focused consultation involves consultants collaborating with teachers, staff, and providers to develop and implement relationship-building strategies that support caregiving practices, address behaviors they find challenging or concerning, and build their confidence in working with all young children and their families.
Yes, programmatic consultation fosters a culture that promotes staff development and supportive relationships. Programmatic support includes collaboration with program leaders and staff to develop inclusive and equitable policies and procedures that reflect a commitment to serving all children and families.
Early learning and care providers and staff are the recipients of consultation services. The IECMHC Network does not provide direct assessment or support to individual children or families. However, providers or staff may choose to focus on aspects of family engagement as part of their consultation services and action plan development.
Consultation requests come from early learning and care programs because the focus is to assist and enhance program staff and providers’ capacity to foster the developmental, social, and emotional health and well-being of young children in their early learning and care setting. Parents are encouraged to discuss any concerns directly with their child’s provider, teacher, site supervisor, or program director. Parents are welcome to explore the IECMHC Network website and share information with their child’s caregivers.
Reflective practice simply means having an awareness of our own experiences, beliefs, biases, cultural norms, and feelings and how this influences our interactions with people around us. Through reflective conversations with the consultant, teachers/providers consider the meaning of young children’s behavior and how their own experiences and beliefs impact the way they respond to children in their care.
Communities of Support are an opportunity to be part of a group of early learning and care providers from a variety of backgrounds. These series of virtual, small-group sessions offer the space for providers to share their experiences providing care for young children and their families through exploration of the strengths and stressors of caring for children, as well as focus on provider well-being.
Open Door drop-in sessions offer virtual consultation in a group setting to seek support and resources about infant, toddler, and young children’s social, emotional, and behavioral health and connect with other early learning and care providers and program leaders.
The IECMHC Network hosts virtual trainings that highlight key aspects of infant and early childhood mental health in early learning and care in center- and home-based care settings. If you receive an IECMHC Network consultation, you may have an opportunity for individualized training for your staff and program.
Zero to Three defines infant mental health as “the developing capacity of the child from birth to 3 to experience, regulate (manage), and express emotions; form close and secure interpersonal relationships; and explore and master the environment and learn—all in the context of family, community, and cultural expectations for young children.” Young children develop their foundational well-being and relational health through the relationships they have with the important adults in their lives.
Call the IECMHC Network Helpline at 1-877-524-2422 to receive no-cost, one-on-one support. An IECMHC Network Mental Health Specialist or Consultant can help answer specific questions or concerns related to the infant, toddler, and young children’s social, emotional, and behavioral health. Based on the type of support you need, the Helpline staff can direct you towards different IECMHC Network services and additional resources.
The IECMHC Network is developing a statewide training program to build workforce capacity in infant and early childhood mental health consultation in California. If you are interested in becoming an infant and early childhood mental health consultant in California, you can apply for the training program through the Consultant Training Program page.
Learn more about the IECMHC Network consultant’s role and qualifications in our recruitment letter. Applications are accepted through the WestEd employment Web page.