Topic: Infant and Toddler Mental Health Programs (Birth to 3)

Scientific Ratings in this topic:

1 - Well-Supported by Research Evidence

2 - Supported by Research Evidence

3 - Promising Research Evidence

4 - Evidence Fails to Demonstrate Effect

5 - Concerning Practice

NR - Not able to be Rated

Learn more about the scale

Definition for Infant and Toddler Mental Health Programs (Birth to 3):

Infant and Toddler Mental Health Programs (Birth to 3) are defined by the CEBC as those that address mental health issues and early attachment disruptions by intervening through parental/caretaker guidance, supportive counseling, and parent/infant dyadic psychotherapy in children from birth up to three years of age. Infant and toddler mental health approaches support the child within the context of his/her relationship with parents and other primary caretakers. Infant and toddler mental health programs also help develop capacity in the child for expressing emotions, forming close and secure relationships, and mastering their environment. Infant and toddler mental health programs can potentially interface across the Child Welfare service continuum, from working with parents and their infants/toddlers in prevention-based voluntary services to supporting structured visitation processes with the infant/toddler and their mother while attempting to reunify. Infant and toddler mental health programs could also potentially play a key role in supporting the relationship between the care provider and the reunifying parent through a permanency teaming approach.

  • Target population: Children from birth up to three years of age
  • Services/types that fit: Typically outpatient services, either individual or family that target the child directly, work with the parent and child together, or target the entire family
  • Delivered by: Mental health professionals or trained paraprofessionals
  • In order to be included: Program must specifically target mental health or attachment issues in children from birth up to three years of age
  • In order to be rated: There must be research evidence (as specified by Scientific Rating Scale) that examines outcomes related to mental health or attachment in young children or their parents, such changes in symptom levels, behaviors, and/or functioning

Why was Infant and Toddler Mental Health Programs (Birth to 3) chosen as a topic by the Advisory Committee? (Click for Answer)

The Infant and Toddler Mental Health Programs (Birth to 3) topic area is relevant to child welfare because infants and toddlers represent the fastest growing age group of children being removed from their homes as a result of abuse or neglect and placed in foster care in the United States. Nationally, approximately 50,000 infants under 12 months (NCANDS) enter foster care every year; they make up one third of all admissions into the child welfare system. According to National Data (NCANDS) for 2007, children younger than 1 year accounted for 42.2 % of all child fatalities, while children younger than 4 years accounted for more than three quarters of all child fatalities. In addition, scientific evidence shows that 75% of the brains wiring occurs by age 1, and 90% by age 5, and research indicates trauma from abuse and neglect adversely impacts proper neural development. All of this shows the importance of early intervention with this young child population. Child Welfare needs to integrate evidence-based strategies in the continuum of services they provide that maximize healthy relationships for the child ages 0-3 in order to minimize and mitigate harmful impacts on brain development and future negative behavior.

Howard Himes, Director
Napa County Health and Human Services
Napa, CA

Programs in this Topic Area

The programs listed below have been reviewed by the CEBC and, if appropriate, been rated using the Scientific Rating Scale.

Programs with a Scientific Rating of 1 - Well-Supported by Research Evidence:

Programs with a Scientific Rating of 2 - Supported by Research Evidence:

  • Child-Parent Psychotherapy (CPP)detailed view
    Topics: Domestic/Intimate Partner Violence: Services for Victims and their Children, Infant and Toddler Mental Health Programs (Birth to 3), Trauma Treatment - Client-Level Interventions (Child & Adolescent)
    Children age 0-5, who have experienced a trauma, and their caregivers

Programs with a Scientific Rating of 3 - Promising Research Evidence:

  • Circle of Security-Home Visiting-4 (COS-HV4)detailed view
    Topics: Infant and Toddler Mental Health Programs (Birth to 3), Parent Training Programs that Address Child Abuse and Neglect, Home Visiting Programs for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect
    Families with children younger than 6 years old in high-risk populations such as child enrolled in Early Head Start, teen moms, ...
  • Mellow Babiesdetailed view
    Topics: Infant and Toddler Mental Health Programs (Birth to 3)
    Disadvantaged families with mothers with children eighteen months old and younger; families can include teenage parents, parents with mental health ...
  • Promoting First Relationships (PFR)detailed view
    Topics: Infant and Toddler Mental Health Programs (Birth to 3), Parent Training Programs that Address Behavior Problems in Children and Adolescents
    Caregivers of children birth to three years
  • Theraplaydetailed view
    Topics: Infant and Toddler Mental Health Programs (Birth to 3)
    Children ages 0-18 who exhibit behavioral problems and their caregiver (biological, adoptive, or foster)
  • Watch, Wait, and Wonder (WWW) – non-responder
    Topics: Infant and Toddler Mental Health Programs (Birth to 3)
    Parents and their children who are experiencing relational and developmental difficulties

Programs with a Scientific Rating of NR - Not able to be Rated: