For early childhood mental health advocates
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KAIMH Connections

Resources for Early Childhood Mental Health Advocates

Updates |  February 2024

Highlights in this newsletter include new Infant Mental Health Endorsees, a free webinar series for leaders and policy makers, research on early exposure to trauma, as well as research on brain impacts to early language exposure, upcoming professional development courses, a free behavior checker resource, and more!

Registration is Open!

 KAIMH Conference April 18-19th, Overland Park, KS



Barbara Stroud, PhD, has a background in culturally informed mental health practice. She has worked in the field for over 30 years and is well respected for her dedication to issues of equity in the work. Dr. Stroud is a Zero To Three Fellow and recipient of the Bruce D. Perry Spirit of the Child Award.

She is presenting, "Relationships, Regulation, and Resilience," on Thursday, April 18th. The developmental and social political outcomes of the COVID pandemic remain. The impact of stress and isolation has been seen in children, caregivers, and the provider communities. When the world around us seems unpredictable, we return to the foundations of relationship and regulation as tools to build resilience. In this full day training we will begin with the significant influences of relationship as they impact development, culture, self-understanding, and school readiness. 



Dr. Melissa Hoffman, DNP, APRN, PMHNP-BC, PMH-C, has dedicated her career to promoting maternal and child health and wellness. She works as a reproductive Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse and is a national speaker on the topics of perinatal mental health, perinatal psychopharmacology, and perinatal peer support.

She is presenting, "Perinatal Peer Support: An Essential Component of Care," and "Perinatal Mental Health 101," on Friday, April 19th. A good support system is vital during the postpartum period and has been shown to decrease the risk for maternal mental health disorders and increase general maternal wellness. A crucial part of the postpartum support system includes quality childcare. Due to lack of paid maternity or paternity leave, many parents are forced to return to work in the early weeks postpartum, which may increase the risk of mental health complications. Childcare providers are an essential link of support for these parents. These sessions will give attendees a basic overview of perinatal mental and substance use disorders and provide accessible resources  providers and the families they serve. 

Breakout Sessions Friday, April 19th

  • Perinatal Mental Health 101
  • Making Space for Reflective Supervision
  • Impacts of Covid on Language Development
  • Birth Equity & Infant Mental Health
  • HOPE (Healthy Outcomes from Positive Experiences)
  • Utilizing Self-Care to Strengthen Daily Practices
  • “Implementing PAX Tools: Strategies to Improve Cooperation and Self-Control in Children

Scholarships are available at Kansas Child Care Training Opportunities.

Language Exposure Impacts Infant Brain Structure



It is well known that unborn infants start hearing sounds around seven months of gestation. They are born recognizing their mother’s voice and are also familiar with the rhythms and melodies of speech heard while in the womb. However, the specific impact of language exposure before birth on a newborn’s brain has remained unclear. Researchers from Université Paris Descartes found compelling evidence that language experience shapes the functional organization of the infant brain, even before birth. Click here to learn more about this study. 

Congratulations to our Newest Endorsees!


Desiree Streight, IMH-E® - Infant Family Associate

Desiree says, "Obtaining my Infant Mental Health endorsement was an important step for me to take in my professional journey. My goal is to provide high quality care for all the children and families I care for, and to provide them with the best resources available. With this endorsement it signifies that not only am I meeting their physical needs but their mental health needs as well."


Lisa Harder, IMH-E® - Infant Family Specialist

Lisa says, "I am a mother of 4 and a grandmother of 3. I have been working with children for over 25 years and find that this is where my heart is. Working with infants, toddlers and families has been such a rewarding experience for me and, along with multiple training opportunities, is where I have learned so much about infant/early childhood social, emotional, and mental health. To me, being endorsed in infant mental health represents all of my valuable trainings and experiences that have led to increased confidence and competence in promoting infant mental health in my field."



According to Dr. Stacy Drury, psychiatrist-in-chief at Boston Children's, "Early caregiving can be like bubble wrap, cushioning children and giving them resilience, especially those exposed to trauma and ongoing upheavals." Read more about how researchers at Boston Children's are investigating how racism, stigma, trauma, violence, inequality and other environmental factors impact bipolar and schizophrenia diagnoses in adulthood.

Free Parent Resource



Check out this free resource from Advent Health Parent Care - a "What to Do” resource for every behavior. Well over 100 different topics are addressed and each one includes encouraging reminders for caregivers while using a self-talk, empathy and teach approach. General guidance, specific examples, games, and advice on what not to do are also included for each behavior. 

Free on Demand Webinar Training for Policy/Advocacy



Thanks to generous funding from the Association of Infant Mental Health in Tennessee (AIMHiTN), the Alliance has initiated three webinars to guide leaders in government, non-profits, administration, advocacy, and policy on shaping infant and early childhood mental health with a reflective lens. We encourage those leaders to view these free webinars:

Love or Understanding?

According to Dr. Jeffery Bernstein, children need to be understood perhaps more than they need love. The power of parental validation is an important investment in a child's future, teaching them the value of compassion and empathy toward others. Click below to read more. 

Research Opportunity

Deakin University is seeking Social Workers in Child & Family, Early Childhood or Health Settings to take part in a study to explore social work practice in using Therapeutic Play/Play Therapy to Enhance Caregiver Relationships with Infants/Young Children (0-5yrs) who have experienced Developmental Trauma/Adverse Childhood Experiences. Click below for more information.





Professional Development Classes

Check out these upcoming professional development opportunities that support your Infant Mental Health Endorsement® from the Early Childhood Investigations Webinars, Kansas Child Care Training Opportunities, Kansas Children's Service League, and Child Care Aware.

Theoretical Foundations
Understanding Attachment Styles and Their Impact on Relationships, Feb. 28
Understanding Temperaments of Young Children, March 7-14
Course Bundle: Infant and Toddler Classrooms, March 14 - April 18

Law, Regulation and Agency Policy
Child Abuse and Neglect: Identification, Reporting, and Prevention, March 7-14
Darkness to Light Stewards of Children® Sexual Abuse Prevention Training, March 21 or March 26

Systems Expertise
Supporting Kansas Families: DCF Child Care Subsidy Program, March 7-14
ACEs and Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope, Feb. 22 or March 5

Direct Service Skills
Ouch! Biting Hurts: Why Toddlers Bite and What to do About It, March 5
Nature-Based Learning: Inspiring & Supporting Staff to Help Children Learn With Nature, March 6
How to Support Breastfeeding Mothers and Families, March 7-14
Responsive Planning for Infants and Toddlers, March 7-14
How Perspective-Taking Nurtures Empathy, Kindness, & Justice in ECE, Feb. 21

Working With Others
Beyond a Celebration: Exploring Culture in Practice, March 7-14
Coaching Strategies that Empower Teachers to Lead From Within, March 14

Difficult Conversations: Discussing Developmental Concerns with Parents, March 7

Play: Problems and Interventions, March 7-14

Respectful Teaching: A Responsive Approach to Infant and Toddler Learners, March 7-14
Early Ed Book Study: Culturally Responsive Teaching, March 14 - April 18

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