What are the New Competency Standards?
Alaska’s Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Competency System encompasses multiple disciples and levels of service delivery including promotion, prevention, early intervention and treatment. Currently there is not a nationally acknowledged framework detailing required infant mental health competencies for professionals working with infants, young children and their families. To this end, in April 2011, Alaska took an important step in helping the state’s early childhood workforce build core knowledge about the social-emotional health of infants and very young children. As part of their efforts to ensure that all professionals who work with children birth to five are knowledgeable and skilled in promoting early childhood mental health, the State of Alaska entered into a licensing agreement with the Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health (MI-AIMH) to use the Competency Guidelines for Culturally Sensitive, Relationship-Based Practice Promoting Infant Mental Health. With this agreement, and in keeping with the Alaska Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Association (AK-AIMH) Strategic Plan for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health (April, 2011), the state has committed to use these nationally recognized competencies to systematize training at various levels of infant/early childhood and family service provision promoting infant mental health. In doing so, Alaska joined 13 other states that have purchased a license to use the competency-based system of professional development.
What is the Value of a Competency-Based System for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health? Valuable in three ways Provides a set of competencies for professional development in the infant, early childhood and family field. Assures people working with infants, young children and families provide culturally sensitive, relationship-based services meeting the standards approved by a recognized professional organization. Recognizes the importance of continuing education and training and demonstrates commitment by professionals from across systems to provide services promoting infant mental health with a high level of integrity.
Are the Competencies Mandatory for Providing Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Services in Alaska? No, at this time mastery of the competencies are not required to work in the field of infant and early childhood mental health in the State of Alaska. However, the AK-AIMH competencies provide a pathway for development in the infant, early childhood and family field for the span of one’s career. They also provide a level of assurance to families, agencies and the public at large that the person delivering services meets professional standards that have been agreed upon by professional consensus. Completion of the competencies can lead to endorsement from the Michigan Infant Mental Health Association. Endorsement is provided at 4 different levels:
- Infant Family Associate – Level I
- Infant Family Specialist – Level II
- Infant Mental Health Specialist – Level III
- Infant Mental Health Mentor (clinical, policy or faculty/research) – Level IV
For additional information, visit the MI-AIMH website