For early childhood mental health advocates
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KAIMH Connections

Resources for Early Childhood Mental Health Advocates

Updates |  April 2024

Highlights in this newsletter include KAIMH conference info (registration closes April 9th), additional professional development opportunities, a free brain building resource for families, our newest Infant Mental Health Endorsees and more!

KAIMH Conference 2024

Registration Closes April 9th!



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 to cover registration and travel costs for early educators, and anyone whose work directly supports licensed child care professionals, are available at Kansas Child Care Training Opportunities.

Medicaid Expansion Discussions

Thrive Kansas and United Methodist Health Ministry Fund hosted community conversations last year to discuss the future of rural health care and Medicaid expansion in Atchison, Colby, Dodge City, Hays and Pittsburg. Discussions centered around the strict limits for qualifying for Medicaid (an uninsured single parent with two children must earn less than $4.75 an hour to qualify for Medicaid), and how an expansion would increase eligibility for health care from $9,446 to $34,307 yearly income for a family of three. To read more, click here

Black Maternal Health Week

This year marks the 7th Annual Black Maternal Health Week, which will be held from April 11-17, 2024. The purpose of #BMHW24 is to highlight efforts led by @BlackMamasMatterAlliance (BMMA), and collectively work toward a future where ALL Black Mamas have the rights, respect, and resources to thrive throughout their lives-including in their reproductive years. To download the toolkit, click here.  



Congratulations to our newest Infant Mental Health Endorsees!

Whitney Smith, IMH-E, Hilltop Child Development Center


Whitney says, “I have been teaching children for 18 years and the past 15 of those 18 years have been spent teaching infants to three-year-olds. Early childhood education and intervention are my passion. Obtaining my Infant Mental Health Endorsement was important to me as I continue to work with children, parents, and teachers in my new administrative role. I am excited to spread awareness about infant and early childhood mental health and promote healthy social and emotional development. I look forward to being a resource to all the families and teachers I cross paths with in the years to come.”


Lisa Harder, IMH-E, Kansas Children's Service League


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."


Melinda Pratt, IMH-E, R&R Collaborative Therapy

Melinda says, "Having this endorsement signifies to me my commitment to infant child mental health, and  to educating others on how to support the mental health needs of infants and young children. I often here people say "they need to learn to calm themselves" when what they should be saying is "we need to teach them how..."  We need to be there to support, encourage and help build those skills of emotional regulation, communication, coping skills, self esteem and more. If we don't how will they learn?"


Jessie Owen, IMH-E, Kansas Children's Service League


Jessie says, "I am a mother to three young children and have been working with children since I graduated from college in 2018, Working with infants and young children is such a rewarding experience and obtaining my KAIMH Endorsement was an important step in my professional growth. I am excited to spread awareness about infant mental health because it is important at all ages and stages of life."

Free Interactive App - Vroom

Vroom® empowers parents and caregivers to play a proactive role in their children’s early brain development. This free app connects caregivers with simple, interactive games that fit into their daily lives. Each "tip" includes the brain science behind the activity and giving parents encouragement and acknowledgement to continue building their children's brain development. To learn more, visit



April - May Professional Development



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 network.

Theoretical Foundations
Co-Regulation or Compliance? Supporting Teachers’ Use of Co-regulation Strategies with Children, May 1
Respectful Teaching: A Responsive Approach to Infant and Toddler Learners, May 2-9
Trauma Informed Series, May 2-9
Course Bundle: Supporting Social-Emotional Development, May 9 - June 13
Creating Trauma-Sensitive Classrooms, May 8 - 15

Law, Regulation and Agency Policy

Darkness to Light Stewards of Children® Sexual Abuse Prevention Training, April 26
Child Abuse and Neglect: Identification, Reporting, and Prevention, May 2-9

Systems Expertise
Advancing the Vision of Inclusion, May 2 - 9
Supporting Kansas Families: DCF Child Care Subsidy Program, May 2-9
The Early Childhood Provider’s Toolkit: Resources and Connections, May 7

Direct Service Skills
Pratt Super Saturday Event, April 20
Unveiling the Therapeutic Value of Outdoor Play, April 20
Live Virtual: Using Visual Supports to Create an Inclusive Program, April 23
Creating an Inclusive and Language-Rich Early Childhood Setting, April 27
Play: Problems and Interventions, May 2-9

Working With Others
Beyond a Celebration: Exploring Culture in Practice, May 16 - 23
Elevate Early Childhood Professionals, April 20
Helping Families Navigate Transitions in the Early Years, April 24 - May 1

Enhancing Communication through #SocialMedia, April 4 - 11

Responsive Planning for Infants and Toddlers, May 2-9
Trauma Responsive Practices, May 15

Elevate Your Career Extended, April 25 - May 9

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