The Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health (IECMH) field is growing and the Institute of Child Development’s programs—led by Elizabeth Carlson, PhD, U of MN Harris Program Director—have been at the forefront of ensuring that the Minnesota early childhood workforce and state policy makers have access to the latest scientific developments to support children and families. Most recently, ICD Harris programs, ZERO TO THREE Policy Center, and other national partners collaborated to sponsor a convening of the Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Financing Policy Project at McNamara Alumni Center on Sept. 27 and 28.
Nearly 25 states and the District of Columbia sent representatives to discuss strategies for financing IECMH services, as well as learn from shared experiences and challenges. The convening was established in 2016 after a group of leaders from Zero to Three, the Irving Harris Foundation, the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS), and ICD formalized a planning group to work on supporting the early childhood mental health field. The goal is to develop a stable and sustainable infrastructure based in science that better serves children and caregivers, particularly high-risk families.
In Minnesota, Catherine Wright, the DHS Early Childhood Division Director, and Glenace Edwall, the former DHS Behavioral Health Director who now serves as an instructor in ICD’S IECMH program, have used research and practices developed at ICD to inform the state’s early childhood mental health system and policy. Partnerships between MN DHS and ICD have led to clinicians in the field completing ICD’s IECMH certificate program to ensure they are trained in the latest evidence-based practices and, in turn, serving as a site for current IECMH students to complete their internships. According to Carlson, the collaborations have been fruitful for everyone involved, serving to make Minnesota a leader in the IECMH field.