Frequently Asked Questions
- Register on the Endorsement Application System (EASy), which involves submitting preliminary information and paying the EASy registration fee.
- When registering on EASy, it is strongly recommended that you register using a personal email address (e.g., Gmail, yahoo, Hotmail, etc.). Employer email servers often block messages sent by EASy.
- EASy applicants must have a current membership with INfancy Onward.
- Infancy Onward memberships run on a calendar year. Any 1-year membership purchased before September 1 will expire December 31 of the same year. Any 1-year membership purchased after September 1 will expire December 31 of the following year. For example, a 1-year membership purchased on August 1, 2020, will expire on December 31, 2020. A 1-year membership purchased on October 10, 2020, will expire on December 31, 2021. There are no exceptions that can be made to this rule.
- EASy will email you a username and password.
- Build your professional application, including work, in-service training, and supervisory experiences. This reflects your capabilities within the infant, young child, and family field.
- You will be asked to list the names and email addresses for the 3 individuals who will complete reference rating forms on your behalf. EASy will send an email to each reference rater; the whole process is done electronically. Please ask your reference raters for a personal email address so they will receive the secure link to complete the form on EASy.
- Once your application is complete you may “Submit” by clicking the button that appears on your EASy dashboard. This includes paying the Endorsement Processing Fee.
- Applications are reviewed quarterly. Check our Calendar to see when the next review will take place.
- Infant/Early Childhood Family Associate & Infant/Early Childhood Family Specialist applicants receive an Endorsement decision after at least one trained reviewer, who has earned Endorsement, examines, and approves the application.
- Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health Specialist & Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health Mentor applicants move on to the written Endorsement exam after at least one trained reviewer, who has earned Endorsement, examines and approves their application Infancy Onward offers the written exam twice a year, typically in March and September. Check our Calendar to see when the next exam will take place.
If you have questions while in EASy, select the “Support” button in the upper right-hand corner. Applicants can indicate whether the issue is technical or related to the Endorsement process. There are also Comment boxes within every tab of the Endorsement application where applicants can ask questions or leave remarks. If you have other questions, unrelated to EASy, email the Endorsement Coordinator.
It varies per person, but is typically a 1-2 year process.
The costs for Infant/Early Childhood Specialist and Infant/Early Childhood Mentor are in line with credentialing fees that have been established by other professional organizations, e.g., CDA (Child Development Associate) and ACSW (Accreditation for Certified Social Workers). The credentialing fees support the overhead costs of the Infancy Onward Endorsement® and allow us to have applications and exams carefully reviewed. Fee information can be found here.
All applications are carefully reviewed by at least one trained application reviewer who has earned Endorsement. The application reviewer will examine your official transcripts, reference rating forms, and qualifying specialized work, in-service training, and RSC experiences. Then they will make a recommendation about whether to recommend your application for Endorsement, to approve you to sit for the Endorsement® exam, or may suggest that you pursue further work, training and/or RSC experiences and then have your application be re-reviewed after a period of time.
Neurons to Neighborhoods (Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000) and Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation (2015) report there is a critical shortage of well trained professionals who have knowledge, skills, and supervised work experience to promote healthy social and emotional development, and to intervene and treat serious early childhood mental health problems.
By engaging in Endorsement, you will:
- Grow and develop as a professional in the rapidly expanding infant, young child, and family service field
- Be recognized by employers and peers for having attained a category of competency in culturally sensitive, relationship-based practice that promotes infant and early childhood mental health
- Become a part of one of the first and most comprehensive international efforts to identify best practice competencies at multiple levels and across disciplines and to offer a pathway for professional development in the infant and family field.
Graduates from a college or university program or post-graduate certificate program in infant mental health must submit documentation of completion of the program, such as a copy of diploma or certificate. Certificate holders may find that their course work has documented their competency in all of the knowledge and skill areas under Theoretical Foundations and Direct Service Skills as defined for Infant/Early Childhood Family Specialist or Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health Specialist. The approved competencies vary from program to program.
- Although most of the competencies are documented by the completion of a university-based certificate in infant mental health, certificate holders who apply for Endorsement must still include at least 30 hours of specialized in-service training
The Infant Mental Health Endorsement® (IMH-E®) and Early Childhood Mental Health Endorsement® (ECMH-E®) marks indicates that a person has earned Endorsement. Use of the registered trademark is important (whenever possible) to distinguish from other systems of “endorsement.”
Jane Doe, MSW, LMSW, IMH-E®
Infant Mental Health Specialist
Jane Doe, MA, IMH-E®
Infant Mental Health Mentor – Clinical
Jane Doe, MS, ECMH-E®
Early Childhood Mental Health Specialist
Jane Does, PhD, ECMH-E®
Early Childhood Mental Health Mentor – Policy
Yes, but not at the same time. There needs to be at least one year between each.
Login to the existing account and add a new application.
Yes, it is based on the ages the applicant works with: Infant = 0-3 years old and Early Childhood = 3-6 years old.
Categories will be determined by work and education experience. To determine the category, reference the Endorsement® Information Booklet.
The applicant must acquire 15 additional training hours annually, have an active membership with Infancy Onward, and, if it applies, 12 hours of Reflective Supervision completed annually.
Early Childhood Mental Health Endorsement®
The ECMH-E® is meant to provide a path to Endorsement® for professionals who are promoting and implementing infant and early childhood mental health (IECMH) principles in their work with or on behalf of children ages 3 up to 6 years old and their families. ECMHE® is built upon the existing IMH-E® structure, e.g. Early Childhood Family Associate, Early Childhood Family Specialist, Early Childhood Mental Health Specialist and Early Childhood Mental Health Mentor, using the existing IMH-E® criteria as a template.
A workgroup of IMH-E® endorsed professionals with experience across diverse early childhood practice settings including early intervention, early childhood education, Head Start, early childhood mental health consultation, and early childhood mental health practice convened over a course of several months to come to agreement for the new criteria.
Workgroup participants came from Alaska, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Washington. Later, other national experts weighed in on the final draft.
No. RSC requirements for ECMH-E® are consistent with requirements for IMH-E®. It has been a core component of the IMH-E® standards that RSC come from a professional who has expertise in infant/young child development, mental health (infant/young child and adult), and reflective supervision. Masters-prepared professionals who provide services in promotion and prevention programs inevitably serve families with much higher levels of risk. For example, we consistently hear from home visitors across states who feel unprepared to manage the needs of families who have experienced trauma and/or are affected by mental health problems. In order to best support the practitioners and the families, the provider of RSC should have training and experience in how trauma and mental illness affect the infant/ young child’s caregiving relationships so that those issues can be identified and appropriately responded to. Professionals who have earned Infant Mental Health Specialist (IMHS), Early Childhood Mental Health Specialist (ECMHS), Infant Mental Health Mentor – Clinical (IMHM-C), and Early Childhood Mental Health Mentor – Clinical (ECMHM-C) have passed an application review and a written exam to document their competence in these areas.
See https://www.allianceaimh.org/endorsement-requirements-guidelines/ for more about RSC requirements for IMH-E® and ECMH-E®.
No. The competencies remain the same for both IMH-E® and ECMH-E® as the competencies already covered a range of knowledge and skill areas that drive best practice with or on behalf of pregnant moms, children ages 0 up to 6 years old, and their caregivers.
The ECMH-E® offers recognition for those whose work is: a) with 3 up to 6-year olds and b) IMH and ECMH-informed. We have long heard from Head Start staff, therapists who work 3-6, ECMH consultants, etc. that they have pursued IMH training and RSC but were very disappointed that they could not receive the IMH-E® recognition because their paid work experiences were not with 0-36 months. Said another way, the ECMH-E® now offers a path for
those whose work is primarily with 3-6 and families and is informed by IECMH principles.
No. Professionals who have already demonstrated that they have the breadth and depth of competence necessary for the IMH-E® will still need to demonstrate the knowledge and skill (acquired through education, specialized in-service training, RSC, work experience and references) required as it relates to children ages 3 up to 6 years old and their families. They may be able to use some of the training and experiences that were part of their IMH-E® application. It is important to note that in the beginning stages of rolling out the ECMH-E®, when building capacity will be a priority, professionals who are endorsed providers of reflective supervision/consultation (in categories IMHS and IMHM-C) for IMH-E® applicants will also be approved providers of RS/C for ECMH-E® applicants.
The Early Childhood Family Associate (ECFA) and Early Childhood Family Specialist (ECFS) categories are available to applicants whose state infant mental health associations have purchased the license to use ECMH-E®. Indiana has purchased the license and are currently participating in a training and technical assistance program with The Alliance. We anticipate offering the ECMH-E® to professionals in early 2020.
The application process will be available online via the Endorsement Application System (EASy), the same system that is used for the IMH-E®. Individuals are not required to have an IMH-E® in order to earn an ECMH-E®.
Be sure to follow us on Facebook to stay up to date on the implementation process and learn when the credential will be available to you! www.facebook.com/infancyonward
Category I: Family Associate and Category IV: Policy and Research/Faculty are the only ones that do not require it, but it is highly recommended for all.
RSC that meets criteria for Endorsement must come from an individual who has earned Endorsement as an Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health Specialist or Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health Mentor-Clinical. A lot of clinical supervision is reflective, but perhaps not all is from a specialist in infant and early childhood mental health. The only exception is for applicants who are pursuing Infant/Early Childhood Family Specialist and are Bachelor’s prepared; they can receive qualified RSC from someone who is an Infant/Early Childhood Family Specialist AND is Master’s prepared.
Many individuals do not have a direct supervisor who has earned Endorsement; however, they do receive RSC from a consultant who is endorsed. If your team meets with an endorsed consultant, you can count the hours of time that you spend with the consultant, even if you are not the identified presenter. For example, if you meet and participate in case consultations once a month for two hours, you will have 24 hours of RSC that meets criteria for Endorsement.
If all of those sources meet criteria for Endorsement, you may include them all as long as the majority of the required clock hours were provided by just one or two supervisors/consultants. As in relationship-focused practice with families, RSC is most effective when it occurs in the context of a relationship that has an opportunity to develop by meeting regularly with the same supervisor/consultant over a period of time. Therefore, Infancy Onward expects that Endorsement applicants will have received the majority of their hours (24 clock hour minimum for Infant/Early Childhood Family Specialist and 50 clock hours for Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health Specialist and Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health Mentor-Clinical) to come from just one source with the balance coming from no more than one other source.
Some applicants may have special circumstances, e.g., if the program supervisor changed or if the applicant moved positions. Exceptions regarding the number of RSC providers should be discussed with the Endorsement Coordinator.
Peer supervision (defined as colleagues meeting together without an identified supervisor/consultant to guide the reflective process), while valuable for many experienced practitioners, does not meet the RSC criteria for Endorsement. The provider of reflective supervision is charged with holding the emotional content of the cases presented. The ability to do so is compromised when the provider is a peer of the presenter. Unnecessary complications can arise when the provider of reflective supervision has concerns about a peer’s ability to serve a particular family due to the peer’s emotional response AND the provider and peer share office space, etc.
Email Infancy Onward to get into a group that works best.
You will include as many hours of relationship-based in-service training and/or continuing education as necessary to document that the competencies (as specified in Competency Guidelines) have been met.
You will list which specific knowledge/skill areas are covered at each training, e.g., attachment, separation, and loss; cultural competence; etc. For a training to count toward Endorsement at least one competency must have been covered. It is important to remember that Endorsement reflects training specialization in the promotion of culturally sensitive, relationship-based practice promoting social and emotional well-being in the first years of life or infant and early childhood mental health.
Although the minimum requirement is 30 hours of in-service training, we expect Endorsement applicants to document that they have achieved competency in almost all of the knowledge/skill areas via their college course work, on-the-job training, in-service training opportunities, and reflective supervision/consultation.
To demonstrate that the full range of competencies have been covered:
- Most IFA/ECFA applicants submit an average of 40 hours of in-service training experiences
- Most IFS/ECFS applicants submit an average of 50 hours of in-service training experiences
- Most IMHS/ECMHS applicants submit an average of 75 hours of in-service training experiences
- Most IMHM/ECMHM applicants submit an average of 75 hours of in-service training experiences
This varies greatly depending on many factors including how long ago you took college courses, how specific the course or training is to infant and early childhood mental health, number of hours, etc. That said, you can use the Competencies page of your EASy application to help you determine this. This page is intended to be used as a “self-study” to help you assess your education and in-service training experiences and determine what additional specialized training might be necessary to meet the competencies and earn Endorsement. You are encouraged to review this “self-study” with an advisor, endorsed colleague, supervisor, mentor, or provider of RSC before submitting your application as an informal review. Someone who has been through the Endorsement process themselves will have important and beneficial feedback to share with you!
At least one trained application reviewer will carefully examine all the material in your application including college transcripts, in-service training record, and reference rating forms. An application reviewer will be looking most closely at the competency areas under Theoretical Foundations, Direct Service Skills, and Reflection. For the areas of Theoretical Foundations (including pregnancy & early parenthood; infant/very young child development & behavior; attachment, separation, trauma, & loss; cultural competence; etc.) and the areas of Direct Service Skills (including observation & listening; screening & assessment; etc.) competency must be documented by course work and/or in-service training. That is, work experience alone is not enough to document competency in areas such as attachment, separation, trauma, & loss or screening & assessment.
There is no limit on how long ago the training was attended to be counted toward requirements. Some applicants may have been in the field for many years and are encouraged to include all the trainings that have shaped their practice in infant, early childhood-family work. However, it is not necessary to submit a comprehensive list of every training ever attended. The list should reflect a balance of breadth and depth across the competencies and the promotion of infant and early childhood mental health.
The training does not need to be sponsored by Infancy Onward to be eligible to count toward your minimum for Endorsement. In fact, many trainings that you attend for professional licensing or agency requirements may also qualify for Endorsement(e.g., an ethics training for social workers, Part C training about family-centered planning, or doula training, to name only a few).
A specialized training that is eligible for Endorsement should meet the following criteria:
- Is culturally sensitive, relationship-focused and promotes infant and early childhood mental health
- Relates to one or more of the knowledge/skill areas in the Competency Guidelines
- Is specific to the Endorsement category for which you are applying
No, however, we strongly recommend that you carefully review the Competency Guidelines to identify the knowledge/skill areas for the Endorsementcategoryfor which you are applying. We expect applicants to document competency in these areas either through college course work, on-the-job training, in-service training opportunities, and RSC. It is important to seek out in-service training/conference offerings that will fill in any competency gaps you might have. Some skill areas (such as empathy and compassion, self-awareness) will be documented in the three reference ratings that you will include with your application.
Trainings that might not meet criteria would be focused primarily on school-aged children, adolescents, or the elderly.
Any Infant or Early Childhood Mental Health related trainings completed outside of formal education counts. For a training to count toward Endorsement® at least one competency must have been covered. It is important to remember that Endorsement® reflects training specialization in the promotion of culturally sensitive, relationship-based practice promoting social and emotional well-being in the first years of life or infant mental health. Resources can be provided through Infancy Onward’s Facebook page and specific links can be sent per request.
- Although the minimum requirement is 30 hours, applicants are expected to document that they have achieved competency in almost all of the categories via college course work, on-the-job training, in-service opportunities and reflective supervision/consultation.
- Family Associate applicants submit an average of 45 hours of in-service training experiences. Family Specialist applicants submit an average of 60 hours of in-service training experiences. Mental Health Specialist applicants submit an average of 75 hours of in-service training experiences. Mental Health Mentor applicants submit an average of 90 hours of in-service training experiences.
The applicant may list as many relevant conferences as they have attended. The portfolio should reflect a balance of broad exposure to young children’s mental health topics (like one would receive in 90 minute sessions at a conference) with deeper exploration and skill development that would occur in trainings of a longer duration (4-6 hours or several days or more on a topic or skill).
Applicants should use the knowledge or skill area categories specific to the level of Endorsement®. The categories are listed in the green margins of the Competency Guidelines. Applicants should choose the most relevant competency(ies) addressed. Applicants will list approximately one competency for each hour of in-service duration (no more than two for a 90-minute workshop; no more than six for a six-hour training, etc.).
Any Infant or Early Childhood Mental Health related trainings completed, outside of formal education, counts. For a training to count toward Endorsement®, at least one competency must have been covered. It is important to remember that Endorsement® reflects training specialization in the promotion of culturally sensitive, relationship-based practice, promoting social and emotional well-being, in the first years of life, or infant mental health. Resources can be provided through Infancy Onward’s Facebook page and specific links can be sent per request.
Applicants will need one reference who qualifies for at least their category of Endorsement®, to be vetted. The vetting of a reference rater who is not Endorsed® consists of:
- sending a resume to Infancy Onward to determine eligibility.
- a phone call with the proposed rater to determine if they have a copy of the Competency Guidelines and are familiar enough with them to rate the applicant’s knowledge and skills, as defined in them.
Infant Family Specialist work experience is typically broader and encompasses many of the ways that applicants might work with the families of infants and toddlers including case management, Part C service coordination, home visiting, parent education, and family support.
Infant Mental Health Specialist work experiences include the following interventions: advocacy, developmental guidance, emotional support, concrete assistance, and parent-infant/very young child relationship-based therapies and practices (e.g., Infant Parent Psychotherapy). These therapies and practices are intended to explore issues related to attachment, separation, trauma, and unresolved losses as they affect the development, behavior, and care of the infant/very young child. Competence as an IMHS builds with supervised work experience over time with services delivered to the families of infants and toddlers that are relationship-focused and culturally sensitive with an emphasis on examining the role of relationships in reflective supervision.
Early Childhood Family Specialist work experience is typically broader and encompasses many of the ways that applicants might work with the families of young children (3 up to 6-years of age) including case management, home visiting, parent education, and family support.
Early Childhood Mental Health Specialist work experiences include the following interventions: advocacy, developmental guidance, emotional support, concrete assistance, and parent-infant/very young child relationship-based therapies and practices (e.g., Child Parent Psychotherapy). These therapies and practices are intended to explore issues related to attachment, separation, trauma, and unresolved losses as they affect the development, behavior, and care of the young child. Competence as an ECMHS builds with supervised work experience over time with services delivered to the families of young children (3 up to 6-years of age) that are relationship-focused and culturally sensitive with an emphasis on examining the role of relationships in reflective supervision.
Infancy Onward does not count classroom experience toward the specialized work experience requirement for Infant Family Specialist mainly because, while a focus on social emotional development is one of the roles, it is not the primary role of an infant/toddler teacher. Quality early care and education settings certainly use opportunities in the daily routine to promote social and emotional development, but are also charged with feeding, diapering/toileting, care, safety, and curriculum development that promotes all domains of development. The primary work of most early care & education settings is not supporting the relationships that surround the infant/toddler. It is our hope that early care & education providers, especially those who pursue and earn Endorsement, do work with infant and early childhood mental health principles in mind, which is why the competencies that are required for Infant Family Associate are nearly identical to those required for Infant Family Specialist. Experience in an early care & education setting is valuable and can be counted toward meeting the requirements for Endorsement as an Infant Family Associate.
Yes, work with pregnant women and families does count towards the required work experience for IFS and IMHS. However, the applicant’s work experience must ALSO include work with infants, toddlers, and their families.
There are two parts to the Endorsement exam.
Part One (60 Multiple Choice Questions – 90 minutes)
The multiple-choice, or quantitative, section is primarily focused on infant and early childhood mental health knowledge specific to work with infants, young children, and their families. Most questions will be related to direct service, but there will be some questions related to reflective supervision/consultation, policy, and research. The multiple-choice section is the same for all Specialist and Mentor applicants. Knowledge gained through course work, specialized in-service training, and self-study will be most useful in this section of the exam. IMH-E® applicants are expected to have knowledge on pregnant women, infants, young children (up to age 3), and families. ECMH-E® applicants are expected to have knowledge on pregnant women, infants, young children (up to age 6), and families.
Part Two (Vignettes – 90 minutes)
The qualitative section will ask for responses to vignettes. This section is intended to measure the applicant’s capacity to apply their knowledge of IECMH principles into practice and to demonstrate a reflective, relationship-based approach. While all of the competency areas are important, the ones under the Reflection, Thinking, and Working with Others domains are important to the qualitative section for Specialists and Mentors – Clinical.
The Administration domain is the primary focus of the Policy exam. Policy applicants are asked to demonstrate a capacity to promote IECMH principles and practices within and across systems.
The Research & Evaluation domain is the primary focus of the Research/Faculty exam. In the Research/Faculty exam, one scenario is more specific to teaching; the other scenario is more specific to empirical research. Research/Faculty applicants will demonstrate a commitment to IECMH principles and practices related to research or course planning and instruction.
The multiple-choice questions are related to the knowledge and skill areas of the competencies as indicated in the Competency Guidelines, such as:
- Attachment separation, trauma, grief, and loss
- Pregnancy, infant and young child development and behavior
- Relationship-based therapeutic practice
- Infant mental health screening and assessment
- Disorders of infancy/early childhood
- Cultural competence
- Reflective practice
Studying for the test will vary from person to person. If you are currently engaged in relationship-based practice with infants, young children, and their families, receive reflective supervision and have consistently updated your knowledge and skills through specialized in-service training or enrollment in university or college course work specific to infancy, early parenthood, and infant and early childhood mental health, you will most likely be very well prepared. If you have not engaged in a great deal of clinical practice or attended in-service trainings or university-based coursework specific to the promotion of infant and early childhood mental health, you will likely find the exam challenging.
A passing score on Part 1 (multiple choice) of the exam is 80%. Applicants who receive a score of less than 80% will be invited to take the exam again in one year. In order to carefully protect the exam materials, applicants will not receive specific feedback related to the questions missed on Part 1. Applicants who do not receive a passing score on Part 2 (response to vignettes/scenarios) will be provided specific feedback based on exam reviewers’ remarks. Those applicants will be invited to take the exam again in one year.