Mission. The Texas Association for Infant Mental Health (TAIMH) is a non-profit affiliate of the World Association for Infant Mental Health and is dedicated to supporting the healthy emotional development of infants, toddlers, and their families. TAIMH is a statewide organization whose mission is to increase awareness of the critical importance of the first three years of life, support conditions that enhance the quality of infant and toddler/caregiver relationships, advocate for policies and practices that support the healthy development of young children, and educate the birth-to-three workforce in best practices.
Brief History. Incorporated in 1985, the Texas Association for Infant Mental Health (TAIMH) has offered support to individuals and groups in the field of infant mental health for over 26 years. The organization was founded by a group of Dallas volunteers, mental health providers, early care and education professionals, university personnel and community advocates. Prior to 2006, the organization was operated by volunteer infant mental health professionals with the help of an administrative assistant and part-time executive director. Generous grants from two families allowed the organization to hire a full- time executive director and support staff. In May 2008, Susan Craven was hired as the first full-time Executive Director to oversee the statewide agency from an Austin office.
Services Provided. TAIMH provides information, support services and training to the public, policy makers, individuals, groups and caregivers who provide services to infants and toddlers and their families. Current research points to the crucial importance of brain development in the first three years of life. Research on early brain development demonstrates that the most important pathways to lifelong behavioral competence, positive social relationships and mental health are formed during the first three years of life.
TAIMH is the only statewide organization focused on the social and emotional health of infants and toddlers. TAIMH serves just under 500 members across the state representing diverse disciplines including education, medicine, speech pathology, occupational and physical therapy, child development, and law. Though the Association does not directly serve children, the organization works to improve the knowledge and skills of those touching the lives of babies whether it is in child care, hospitals, child protective services, the courts, or families.
Major activities and programs of TAIMH are based upon the strategic plan developed by the Board in 2008 and updated in 2010 and center around the following areas of focus: increasing TAIMH membership and Chapters, increasing the number of caregivers who are trained and endorsed to provide infant and toddler services; supporting changes in public policy and practice that fosters infant and toddler social/emotional health, continuing training and educational offerings such as the Brazelton biennial conference on infant mental health, Food for Thought series at our Chapters and KERA-Dallas and training series for childcare providers, child protective services workers, and others.
Unique Training System: In an effort to upgrade the knowledge of caregivers of 0-3 year olds, TAIMH purchased the Endorsement System for Culturally Sensitive Relationship-Based Practice Promoting Infant Mental Health from the Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health in 2005. The training associated with the endorsement system is the only organized system of training in Texas that is appropriate for all those working with the 0-3 population – child care workers and their supervisors, infant massage specialists, social workers, nurses, judges, child protective workers, and others.
The intent of TAIMH endorsement is to recognize and document the development of infant and family professionals within an organized system of culturally sensitive, relationship-based, infant mental health learning and work experiences. Endorsement 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 high quality care and services. TAIMH’s endorsement provides information of significant benefit to employers, referral sources, and the courts seeking expert witnesses related to the social and emotional development of infants and young children and their families. The endorsement is also nationally recognized and honored in other states.
Ultimately, TAIMH would like to see everyone who works with infants and toddlers in any capacity achieve the knowledge and skills necessary to earn endorsement. Since 90% of the human brain is developed in the first three years of life, the potential that these workers have to influence and shape this population is astounding and requires that they have the competence necessary to effectively help them thrive. TAIMH is working hard to make this a reality. The system requires continuing education and strongly encourages and supports ongoing reflective supervision to maintain endorsement. Currently, TAIMH is focused on significantly increasing the number of child care providers in Texas who are trained and endorsed. In the coming year, TAIMH will be offering trainings to child protective staff and the Infant Toddler courts.