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Ohio’s Early Childhood Mental Health Competencies and Credential

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Ohio’s Core Competencies for Early Childhood Mental Health Professionals were developed by a 12-person work group from around the state, covering a broad range of experience and expertise.

The group continued work that initially began with the social-emotional work group of BUILD Ohio. The document was written to promote professional development, skills, and attitudes necessary for working with diverse populations and served as a first step in articulating multidisciplinary competences in Infant, Toddler, and Early Childhood Mental Health (ITECMH) practitioners. The Competencies are one component of Ohio’s ITECMH program, conceived as a continuum of services and supports, although the primary focus is consultation. Ohio’s early childhood mental health plan recommends that ITECMH specialists (viewed as consultants or therapists) be licensed mental health professionals.

The Ohio Competencies are divided into different domains. The domains are meant to build upon one another – for example, the first competency pertains to social/emotional development and is meant to serve as the foundation for the remaining competencies. Applicants must have a concrete understanding of social/emotional development and be able to apply that understanding to be successful with the following competencies.

The Ohio Competencies are unique, not only for the fact that they intentionally exclude a domain of development that is often included in competencies for credentials. Ohio also did not include the domain of health, nutrition and safety because many ITECMH professionals do not often address this area of development. Another noteworthy element is that the Ohio Competencies do not specify an age group, although the OH ITECMH program is generally focused on ages birth to 5 years.

The Ohio Early Childhood Mental Health Professional Credential includes professions in the fields of: child and family studies, child development, education, early childhood, pre-k, elementary education, special education, nursing, medicine, psychology/counseling, and social work. Beginning in 2013, minimum standards to obtain an Ohio IECMH Professional Credential were set. The minimum standards pertain to the field of work the applicant is in, education level, length of service, training received, license type, and competency inventory. If an individual seeks to renew his/her credential, they must do so every 2 years and must meet the training and/or coursework requirements, and they must have completed the ECMH skills inventory update.

Learn more about Ohio and how other states are developing their Infant, Toddler, and Early Childhood Mental Health Systems in ZERO TO THREE’s paper: Infants, Toddlers, and Early Mental Health Competencies: A Comparison of Systems.


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