This paper is about The Colorado Association for Infant Mental Health (CoAIMH) by Board President, Ous H. Badwan (Psy.D., M.F.T.). CoAIMH has been a WAIMH Affiliate since 2002 and is an official affiliate of The Alliance for the Advancement of Infant Mental Health (The Alliance), since 2010. This report reflects on their mission, vision, and a recent initiative where they partnered with The Alliance to host the Third Annual Reflective Supervision and Consultation (RS/C) in 2018. The paper also reports on the Colorado Foundations of Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health for Early Childhood Professionals and Partners (Colorado Foundations). This is a CoAIMH initiative; a 9-module foundational course, designed to support training and competence in Colorado’s infant and early childhood mental health workforce. Finally, this paper highlights the diversity of professional membership within affiliates with the majority of their members working in non-clinical settings with families/other caregivers and young children.
The Colorado Association for Infant Mental Health (CoAIMH) is a not-for-profit membership organization that was founded in 2001, has been an official affiliate of the World Association for Infant Mental Health (WAIMH) since 2002 and is an official affiliate of The Alliance for the Advancement of Infant Mental Health (the Alliance) since 2010. The link for CoAIMH is as follows: www.coaimh.org
Mission and Vision
CoAIMH’s mission is achieved through the development and support of Colorado’s infant and early childhood workforce, along with advocacy for public policy matters that impact young children. CoAIMH’s vision is a strong community of providers, policy makers, and researchers that consistently prioritizes the relationships between young children and their caregivers.
Membership in CoAIMH is open to individuals of all disciplines and to all those living in Colorado who provide evidence of some expertise in and dedication to the field of infancy and early childhood. CoAIMH’s membership represents a wide variety of professionals who work with young children and families, including mental health clinicians, early childhood mental health consultants, early interventionists, home visitors, university faculty, child care providers, private practice therapists, physicians, and other allied health practitioners. Most of CoAIMH’s members work with families/other caregivers and young children in non-clinical settings and are part of the large child-serving system in Colorado. CoAIMH is currently run by a 7-person volunteer board and 1 part-time contractual employee.
CoAIMH and The 3rd Annual Reflective Supervision/Consultation Symposium: Mining the Depths, An Exploration of Equity through the Reflective Process (2018)
CoAIMH, in partnership with The Alliance for the Advancement of Infant Mental Health (The Alliance), sponsored the Third Annual Reflective Supervision and Consultation (RS/C) in 2018. The annual RS/C Symposium is an opportunity for mid-career and advanced practitioners to deepen their understanding of reflective supervision and consultation through short presentations by invited speakers, the experience of observing reflective supervision sessions, and small group-guided reflection and discussion on the larger group experience. The Symposium is also an opportunity for the Alliance to recognize the work of leaders in the field and to bring research and challenges to our attention through invited speakers.
Recognizing a lack of diverse representation and a gap in attention given toward issues of diversity and equity in the infant and early childhood field, CoAIMH chose to focus the event on these issues and thus titled the Symposium: The 3rd Annual Reflective Supervision/Consultation Symposium: Mining the Depths, An Exploration of Equity through the Reflective Process. The overall purpose of this event was to offer a space where participants could bravely and openly discuss issues of equity, race, cultural diversity, and intersectionality within the context of reflective supervision in the infant and early childhood field. CoAIMH was thrilled to welcome Dr. Eva Marie Shivers, Founder and Director of the Indigo Cultural Center in Phoenix, AZ as the event’s theme advisor and keynote speaker, as well as over 165 infant and early childhood professionals from across the country to the event.
CoAIMH and the Alliance did not expect to solve the problem of racial inequity during these three days but felt it was imperative to bring a conversation to the forefront. Many reactions about the event have been expressed and raised many questions, both from attendees and from stakeholders. In the work of addressing racism and social inequality there is often this difficulty – who takes on this work, oppressed or the oppressor? When do we work separately in groups of affiliation and when and how do we come together? CoAIMH was grateful for the opportunity to create dialogue around issues of equity, race, cultural diversity, power, and privilege in the infant and early childhood field. Planning for and hosting the event has led to an increased commitment of keeping these important issues at the forefront of our strategic plan.
Colorado Foundations of Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health for Early Childhood Professionals and Partners
To further support the continued training and support of Colorado’s infant and early childhood mental health workforce, CoAIMH developed a 9-Module foundational course, called Colorado Foundations of Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health for Early Childhood Professionals and Partners (Colorado Foundations). Colorado Foundations is unique in its ability to promote a shared understanding and common language of infant and early childhood mental health principles to all professional who touch the lives of infants and toddlers and their families. CoAIMH is currently revising Colorado Foundations based on 2017 pilot evaluation data. With the support of funding from the Buell Foundation, the revised curriculum is currently being linguistically translated into Spanish while bilingual and bicultural Master Trainers are being trained to deliver the curriculum to monolingual (Spanish-speaking) or bilingual infant and early childhood professionals. These strategic steps toward increasing CoAIMH’s representation and capacity to deliver culturally-responsive programs were directly informed by CoAIMH’s experience planning for and hosting the 2018 RS/C Symposium.
CoAIMH and ongoing professional development opportunities
In addition to Colorado Foundations, CoAIMH continues to provide bi-annual professional development opportunities on a variety of topics related to the field of infant mental health. CoAIMH also coordinates the Infant Mental Health Endorsement (The Endorsement for Culturally Sensitive, Relationship-Focused Practice Promoting Infant Mental Health: IMH-E) in the state of Colorado. CoAIMH coordinates a variety of other services within our state.
Moving forward, CoAIMH is committed to:
a) offering a platform that cultivates conversations about diversity and the development of culturally-responsive programs (to better reach underserved and diverse populations); and
a) providing leadership opportunities for professionals who represent a diverse audience.
CoAIMH’s current challenge is an active transition from a volunteer to a staff-run organization. After recently completing a 3-year business plan, we intend to hire an Executive Director during this calendar year. Our current proposal for funding to support this new position has been reviewed and approval is currently pending. CoAIMH’s growth has been greatly supported and celebrated within our state. At the same time, this growth has come with challenges that are particularly related to the capacity of the current structure to sustain CoAIMH’s current operational duties on a day-to-day basis.
Ous H. Badwan (Psy.D., M.F.T) CoAIMH Board President, Colorado, USA