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Getting Started: Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why did South Carolina decide to adopt the Competency Guidelines for Endorsement for Culturally Sensitive, Relationship-Focused Practice Promoting Infant & Early Childhood Mental Health®?

In adopting Competency Guidelines for Endorsement for Culturally Sensitive, Relationship-Focused Practice Promoting Infant & Early Childhood Mental Health®, our state joins a swiftly growing movement to prioritize the need for increased resources and attention on the social and emotional needs of infants and young children. South Carolina is the 29th state and joins two countries in licensing use of the Competency Guidelines (MI-AIMH Copyright © 2017. With this, South Carolina also becomes part of the Alliance for the Advancement of Infant Mental Health.  The Alliance was formed with the goal of ensuring consistency in professional standards across state lines, promoting the relational health of infants, young children and their families, supporting professionals who serve infants, young children and families through workforce development and shared resources for infant and early childhood mental health associations.

2. Is South Carolina the only state that offers Endorsement?

No. South Carolina is one of 32 state infant mental health associations and two international associations who have licensed the use of the Competency Guidelines.

These state and international members make up the Alliance for the Advancement of Infant Mental Health.  The members of the Alliance honor reciprocity of Endorsement across states. If a professional earns Endorsement as an IMH-E® Family Specialist in Connecticut and then later moves to South Carolina, the Endorsement as an IMH-E® Family Specialist will be honored by the professional’s new state.

3. What is the benefit for obtaining my Endorsement?

Obtaining your Endorsement from SCIMHA verifies that an applicant has attained a level of education as specified, participated in specialized in-service trainings, worked with guidance from mentors or supervisors and acquired knowledge to promote the delivery of high quality, culturally sensitive, relationship-focused services to infants, toddlers, young children, parents, other caregivers and families.

Endorsed professionals are building the capacity of the infant and early childhood workforce by gaining shared competencies across disciplines. Achieving Endorsement sends a message to centers/agencies, peers and colleagues, families and the entire community that the professional encompasses the set of skills and knowledge necessary to implement best practices for supporting infants, toddlers and their families.

In a survey of newly endorsed professionals across all categories, the following benefits were shared:

    • More knowledgeable about infant mental health
    • Strengthened confidence in providing services
    • Better equipped to identify the supports that a family might need
    • Developed an appreciation for reflective supervision
    • Helped remove judgment when providing services
    • Re-inspired the work
    • Increased credibility when collaborating with other agencies

Other benefits have begun to surface across Alliance members. For example, some agencies prefer hiring applicants who have or are working toward Endorsement. Some states have implemented pay increases for endorsed professionals, while others are advocating for endorsed professionals to be able to bill Medicaid for their services. 

4. What if I work with children older than three years?

Providing services to a larger age range of children is common in the early childhood field. The majority of Endorsement applicants work with children from birth to age five, or even age eight. For the purposes of Endorsement, applicants will focus descriptions of their education, professional role, trainings and reflective supervision/consultation (if required) on the services they provide to infants and toddlers from birth through age three only. 

As of May 2020, SCIMHA also offers the Early Childhood Mental Health Endorsement, which supports professionals who primarily serve children age three through age six and their families and caregivers. 

5. What if I don’t have a mental health background?

That’s okay! The framework of the Endorsement is to support the infant and early childhood workforce, which is a multidisciplinary field. SCIMHA supports a variety of professionals through the Endorsement application process, including but not limited to home visitors, early care and education teachers and caregivers, early childhood mental health consultants, early intervention providers, psychologists, licensed social workers, research faculty and policymakers and administrators. Even though all of these professionals were not necessarily trained in mental health, their role is critical to supporting the mental health of infants and toddlers.

Infant mental health is the developing capacity from birth to age three to:

  • Experience, regulate and express emotions
  • Form close relationships
  • Explore the environment and learn

…all in the context of family, community, and cultural expectations for young children.
(Zero to Three Infant Mental Health Task Force, 2011)

6. How long will it take me to complete the Endorsement application?

Applying for Endorsement is an individual process for each professional. On average, it takes an applicant 12-18 months from the initial application registration to submission of their final application.

7. Do I need to have met all of the requirements for Endorsement before I begin my application?

No! In fact, Endorsement is designed to support the professional development of the infant and early childhood workforce. Applicants develop a professional development plan as they move through the application process. In turn, the experiences an applicant gains from work, trainings and reflective supervision/consultation, if required, supports his or her Endorsement application process. 

8. Who do I contact if I need help during the application process?

If you have questions at any point throughout the Endorsement process, please contact Endorsement Coordinator Jean Cimino

9. Who reviews my Endorsement application?

Each Endorsement application is reviewed by two endorsed professionals from South Carolina or another Alliance member state.  

10. Who reviews my written Endorsement exam?

Exams will be reviewed by endorsed professionals who have been trained by The Alliance to review Endorsement exams. The identity of exam reviewers and applicants is kept confidential from each other to avoid any conflicts of interest.

Contact Us:

1 Carriage Lane, Suite J
Charleston, SC 29407

(833) 472-4642

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