Policy Resource

West Virginia Builds Capacity to Promote Infant Mental Health

Feb 9, 2016

West Virginia Early Childhood Advisory Council has been working to build a high quality, coordinated system of services to support early childhood development, including efforts align home visiting programs

Since 2010, the West Virginia Early Childhood Advisory Council has been working to build a high-quality, coordinated system of services to support early childhood development. Important aspects of that work include efforts to improve the capacity of professionals to support infant mental health and further alignment of home visiting programs.

State and local leaders recognized a need for professional competencies and endorsements related to children’s social and emotional development in 2012. To meet that need, the state chose to align with the Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health (MI-AIMH) Endorsement for Culturally Sensitive, Relationship-Focused Practice Promoting Infant Mental Health. They set a goal for all early childhood educators and home visiting providers in West Virginia to achieve endorsement at one of the four tiers within the Competency and Endorsement system by 2020. State leaders established the West Virginia Association for Infant Mental Health (WV-AIMH) and raised awareness statewide about the importance of the mental health promotion, prevention, intervention, and treatment paradigm. An initial cadre of home visitors began proceeding through the process to receive a Tier III or Tier IV endorsement in 2014; they will serve as mentors or coaches to others pursuing endorsement at lower tiers.

West Virginia’s systems work also includes efforts align home visiting programs. Through the federal Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood initiative, the state finances training to all home visiting programs, regardless of their funding, as a way to share common information, resources and tools, and to build consistency in assessment and practice. By applying common benchmarks, West Virginia plans to gather data using standard evidence-based tools and demonstrate success across the range of home visiting models.

West Virginia is unusual in the level of its parent input on planning. Much work has been done to shift to a strength-based approach. The state expects all local continuous quality improvement teams and home visiting advisory boards to have parent representation. Communities are encouraged to field test materials and handouts with parents. Updated January 2016.

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