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Diversity in Early Relationship Support: Equity-Focused Training in Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation

Program Description

The Center for Early Relationship Support (CERS) at Jewish Family & Children's Service Boston is offering a new training program in Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (IECMHC) for providers of color. This free, comprehensive course seeks to bring more providers of color into the IECMH consultation field in order to better support children from all racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Learn more about the training program from the slides below:   

Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation is a culturally sensitive, trauma-informed, prevention-based service that pairs mental health consultants with early childhood caregivers to help them understand challenging behaviors and better support the healthy social and emotional development of children. For more details, see the JF&CS IECMHC webpage.

Participants in this course will explore the IECMHC knowledge base and take a practical, in-depth look at the work itself, utilizing principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion to learn together, reflect deeply on their own experiences, and discover how this work can be a significant force for change and empowerment for children and adults alike. As a pilot program, we will also welcome participant feedback throughout the year to ensure we meet their learning needs, and to continue to improve the training for future cohorts.

As a foundation for course content, participants will take part in training to become certified facilitators for Circle of Security groups for parents and early educators.  The Circle of Security is an evidence-based program to promote emotional connection in children’s earliest relationships.

Note that this tuition-free course, alongside participation in the Circle of Security training, prepares candidates for certification or endorsement in I/EMHC through the Massachusetts Associatino of Infant Mental Health (MassAIMH) and other organizations supporting the workforce of Early Childhood Mental Health Consultants. It is particularly appropriate for those seeking to work as Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health Consultants in Head Start, Early Head Start and other childcare and early learning settings. 

Program Goals:  

The IECMHC Training Program offers clinicians, consultants, and others supporting the social and emotional growth of children 0-5 and their families the opportunity to: 

  • expand their clinical knowledge, skill set, and experience in consultation
  • explore their use of consultation as a way to enhance observation and reflection among early educators and parents
  • expand their knowledge about early childhood development
  • investigate the nature of attachment and difficulties connected to attachment, the impact of trauma and ACEs (adverse childhood experiences) on developmental mastery, and the importance of strong relationships to social and emotional well-being and later school readiness
  • learn about and practice effective strategies to address challenging child behaviors
  • embrace the work of promoting infant and early childhood mental health using an equity lens to ensure all families have access to services that are responsive to their diverse needs
  • become familiar with assessment and screening tools to measure social and emotional development and the impact of trauma
  • develop strategies for reflective capacity, self-care, and professional development as ways to foster longevity in the field

Date and Time:  

The IECMHC Training Program meets weekly on Wednesday mornings from 9-11 am, starting in September 2022 and running through June 2023. The weekly, 2-hour teleconference sessions include:

  • Course Seminar: The seminar meetings make up 10 of the weekly course sessions, along with 2 in-person retreat sessions of 6 hours each. The retreats are scheduled for December 2022 and March 2023, and will be run in accordance with COVID protocols. The total in-class time for the seminar portion of the course is 32 hours. 
  • Group Reflective Practice Sessions: The weekly course meetings include 8 sessions of Group Reflective Practice, on an alternating schedule with the seminar meetings.  
  • Circle of Security Group Participation: Course attendees will learn about Circle of Security first-hand by participating in a Circle of Security group for 8 of their weekly course sessions. 
  • Reflective Supervision: The weekly course meetings include 6 weekly sessions of IPTI’s Reflective Supervision course. 
  • Additional Course Learning: Course participants have the opportunity to participate in Circle of Security (COS) Facilitator training at no additional cost. This training is approximately 35 hours in duration, and is completed outside of the regular weekly course meeting time.  With the completion of COS Facilitator training, course participants will be certified to serve as independent Circle of Security Group Facilitators. 

Class size: 

The course will be a small group learning environment with a maximum of 12 participants.


The course participation is free for all admitted applicants.  Course expenses, including course materials, will be covered by the IECMHC Workforce Expansion Project.

Course Texts:

  • Mental Health Consultation in Child Care by Kadija Johnson and Charles Brinamen
  • When Young Children Need Help: Understanding and Addressing Emotional, Behavioral, and Developmental Challenges by Deborah Hirschland
  • Hope and Healing: A Caregiver’s Guide to Helping Young Children Affected by Trauma by Kathleen Fitzgerald Rice and Betsy McAlister Groves
  • When Getting Along is Not Enough: Reconstructing Race in Our Lives and Relationships by Maureen Walker

Who Should Apply?

We seek diverse candidates with lived experience as a member of a community currently underrepresented in the consultation field, including Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and bilingual candidates. 

A bachelor’s degree and 7+ years’ work experience in a mental health field, education, or child development is required; a master’s degree is preferred.  

Our ideal candidate will be mature, flexible, have strong interpersonal skills and an ability to work independently. Knowledge about child development, early relationships and family systems as understood through a racial and cultural equity lens, as well as direct experience working with young children are preferred, but not required.


Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for some disciplines will be available


Download Application form here

Download References form here

Participants will be admitted to the IECMHC Training Program on a rolling basis, though early applications are encouraged. Priority will be given to applications submitted by June 15th, 2022. 

Along with your application, a copy of your resume or CV and two professional references are required. The application process will include an interview via teleconference. After receiving a completed application and letters of reference, DERS staff will contact candidates to schedule an interview. 

For more information, please contact the IECMHC Training Program at or 781-693-5622.

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