In October 2014, Hillsborough County took an important step in working to develop professional capacities in those serving our youngest children through building knowledge in the area of social-emotional health of infants and very young children. As part of these efforts to ensure that all professionals who work with children birth to 3 are knowledgeable and skilled in promoting early childhood mental health, the Early Childhood Council of Hillsborough County through funding from the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County 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 maintaining alignment with the Florida Association for Infant Mental Health’s Strategic Plan, our early childhood community 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, Hillsborough County joined it’s fellow Florida community of Palm Beach County along with over 16 other states in using this competency-based system of professional development.

Strengths of a competency-based system for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health:

1. Provides a set of competencies for professional development in those serving infants, young children and their families / caregivers.

2. Promotes a service delivery system that is culturally sensitive and relationship-based.

3. Values and prioritizes continuing education and training.

4. Demonstrates commitment by professionals and organizations from across systems to provide services promoting Infant Mental Health with a high level of integrity.