Programs | Projects

Infant and Early Childhood
Mental Health Conference

Workshops & Featured Speakers

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Infant & Early Childhood Conference Home Page

Monday Keynote Presentation

ACES: Strategies for Addressing Adversity in the Lives of Young Children and their Families

Monday, October 26 | 9 – 10:30 a.m. CST | Online

This keynote will explore the impact of adverse childhood and community experiences on the development and mental health of infants, toddlers, preschoolers and their caregivers. Strategies for optimizing young children’s outcomes in the face of these challenges will be discussed, including interventions for the children themselves, parenting programs, and community-based initiatives.

Presented by Dr. Brenda Jones Harden, PhD, Alison Richman Professor for Children & Families – University of Maryland School of Social Work

Dr. Brenda Jones Harden is the Alison Richman Professor for Children and Families, at the University of Maryland School of Social Work. She directs the Prevention and Early Adversity Research Laboratory, where she and her research team examine the developmental and mental health needs of young children who have experienced early adversity and toxic stress, particularly those who have been maltreated or have experienced other forms of trauma. A particular focus is preventing maladaptive outcomes in these populations through early childhood programs. She has conducted numerous evaluations of such programs, including early care and education, home visiting services, parenting interventions, and infant mental health programs. Dr. Jones Harden is a scientist-practitioner who uses research to improve the quality and effectiveness of child and family services and to inform child and family policy. She received a PhD in developmental and clinical psychology from Yale University and a Master’s in Social Work from New York University.

Tuesday Keynote Presentation

Structural Factors and Inequities in Maternal and Infant Health and the Path Towards Birth Equity

Tuesday, October 27 | 9 – 10:30 a.m. CST | Online

Structural racism disadvantages parents of color before, during and after pregnancy, leading to heartbreaking perinatal health inequities for both birthgivers and their babies. Relationship-centered and culturally-centered care models provide needed support to parents of color, making strides on the path towards racial birth equity. Building anti-racism into medical, educational, and policy systems beyond perinatal care is necessary for sustainable racial health equity throughout the lives of people of color.

Presented by Dr. Rachel R. Hardeman, PhD, MPH, Associate Professor in the Division of Health Policy & Management – University of Minnesota, School of Public Health

Dr. Rachel R. Hardeman is a tenured Associate Professor in the Division of Health Policy & Management, University of Minnesota, School of Public Health and the Blue Cross Endowed Professor in Health and Racial Equity. A reproductive health equity researcher, she applies the tools of population health science and health services research to elucidate a critical and complex determinant of health inequity—racism. Dr. Hardeman leverages the frameworks of critical race theory and reproductive justice to inform her equity-centered work which aims to build the empirical evidence of racism’s impact on health particularly for Black birthing people and their babies. Dr. Hardeman’s research includes a partnership with Roots Community Birth Center, in North Minneapolis, one of five Black-owned freestanding birth centers in the United States. Her work also examines the potential mental health impacts for Black birthing people when living in a community that has experienced the killing of an unarmed Black person by police. Published in journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine and the American Journal of Public Health, Dr. Hardeman’s research has elicited important conversations on the topics of culturally-centered care, police brutality and structural racism as a fundamental cause of health inequities. Her overarching goal is to contribute to a body of knowledge that links structural racism to health in a tangible way, identifies opportunities for intervention, and dismantles the systems, structures, and institutions that allow inequities to persist.

1. Supporting American Indian Children & Families: Understanding Risk & Resilience in Cultural, Community & Historical Context & Implications for Practice

Monday, October 26 | 11 to 2:45 p.m. (with a 1-hour break at 12:30)

Dr. Michelle Sarche and Ms. Susan Beaulieu are both American Indian tribal community members who have worked to support the health and wellbeing of American Indian and Alaska Native children and families through research and practice in partnership with tribal communities across the country.  This workshop will provide a broad overview of the American Indian and Alaska Native population in the US and a focused discussion of the historical, cultural, and community factors that shape young children’s development. The workshop will help participants develop a deeper understanding of the risks to development that derive from the structural inequalities prevalent in many tribal communities as well as the sources of resilience that derive from the rich cultural beliefs and practices and extended family relationships that are also prevalent.  The workshop is intended for participants with a range of experience working with American Indian and Alaska Native children and families, including participants who may have had little experience to date.  Suggestions for practices that support American Indian children and families in a variety of practice settings will be shared, along with opportunities for discussion.

Presented by Susan Beaulieu, MPP, Tribal Community Facilitator – University of Minnesota Extension & Michelle Sarche, PhD, Associate Professor and Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Centers for American Indian and Alaska Native Health, Colorado School of Public Health – University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

Level: Basic

2. Pandemic Parenting: An Experiment in Infant Mental Health

Monday, October 26 | 11 to 2:45 p.m. (with a 1-hour break at 12:30)

We are in an unprecedented era in the lives of parents and young children.  When have we ever raised children during a prolonged period of isolation because other people might be dangerous to our health? What will this mean for young children’s development, and how can parents adapt to the new paradigm?  This presentation will discuss themes and challenges that have emerged during the shutdown, the impact on parents, and considerations for infant mental health in light of what we know about early development. 

Presented by Carol Siegel, PhD, LP, IMH-E®(IV), Private Practice & Instructor in Infant and Early Childhood Certificate Program – University of MN

Level: Intermediate | Includes Clinical Content

3. Reflective Supervision/Consultation (RS/C): Self-Awareness, Bias, Race, Culture and Diversity

Monday, October 26 | 11 to 2:45 p.m. (with a 1-hour break at 12:30)

We live in challenging times, which require us to examine our inevitable human implicit biases, take the perspective of others and increase our capacity for reflection, a foundational principle of infant and early childhood mental health work.  

This workshop provides an opportunity to explore ways to co-create reflective spaces to consider the thoughts, feelings, values, and intentions of ourselves and others as we work directly with infants, young children, their families, and caregivers to provide services.  

Intended for those professionals who provide and receive RS/C, this experiential workshop will be grounded in Self-Awareness, Bias, Race, Culture, and Diversity in conjunction with our reflective work with Infants, Children, and Families.  Bring your authentic self, and let’s get ready to stretch ourselves to new heights.

Presented by Michele Fallon, LICSW, IMH-E®(IV) & Sheila Sweeney, PhD, IMH-E®(III)

Level: Intermediate

4. Regaining Our Sense of Safety, Connection and Self-Efficacy During the Pandemic

Tuesday, October 27 | 11:00 – 12:30 CST

Children, families, early childhood educators and those who support them have all had their world rocked over the past months. Join staff from the Center for Inclusive Child Care as they share strategies they have used to regain a sense of balance across relationships in early childhood settings. We will ask you to also reflect and share in small groups as we examine the many ways we can and do promote safety, connection and a sense of competence for children, their families, our colleagues and ourselves.

Presented by Brenda Lowe, MA ECE, IMH-E® (II) & Beth Menninga, MA Ed, IMH-E® (II), RBPD Manager – Center for Inclusive Child Care

Level: Basic

5. Resiliency in Challenging Times: Supporting Caregivers Across Disciplines in Rural MN

Tuesday, October 27 | 11:00 – 12:30 CST

Caregivers who have never felt calm must experience this feeling with others before they can soothe their children.  For many parents stable, healthy caregiving experiences have not been the narrative of their life. Professionals in early childhood have an opportunity to help parents heal trauma while increasing protective capacities.  In this workshop you will learn collaborative strategies that allow caregivers to gain understanding of the impacts of trauma on parenting, while offering tools to address challenges with their children and themselves.

Participants will:
+ Understand the unique needs of caregivers and early childhood professionals in rural Minnesota    
+ Explore challenges of helpers who work with caregivers 
+ Acknowledge barriers in protective capacity of parents
+ Learn collaborative & creative strategies in trauma-informed parent support in communities with limited resources

Presented by Cailee Furer, MEd & Jessica Croatt Niemi, MSSW, LICSW, IMH-E®(IV)

Level: Intermediate | Includes Clinical Content

6. Young Children in Foster Care: Experience, Development and Intervention

Tuesday, October 27 | 11:00 – 12:30 CST

This workshop will describe the epidemiology and developmental consequences relative to young children in foster care. The child welfare experiences of these children will be explored, as well as evidence-based interventions to promote their development and mental health. It will address working with  young children and their families and caregivers in foster care from a multidisciplinary perspective

Presented by Brenda Jones Harden, PhD

Level: Basic | Includes Clinical Content

7. Holding the Holders: Finding Balance During Times of Uncertainty

Tuesday, October 27 | 1:30 – 3:00 CST

As professionals, we are regularly holding the emotions, experiences, and hope for the families and children we are working with. But often times, especially during times of uncertainty, we may find ourselves feeling empty, as if there isn’t much left of ourselves to offer. How do we prevent feeling drained and overwhelmed? How do we prioritize taking care of ourselves? Who can help us hold hope? We will explore what we have been learning about self-care throughout all the unexpected changes and living in uncertainty. In addition, participants will identify strategies and tools to regain professional and personal balance.

Presented by Anna Clavin, MS, LMFT, IMH-E® (III) & Tracy Schreifels, MS, LMFT, IMH-E® (III)

Level: Intermediate | Includes Clinical Content

8. Working with Parents During Stressful Times

Tuesday, October 27 | 1:30 – 3:00 CST

We are all experiencing increased amounts of stress as we revamp our personal and professional roles amidst the ever changing landscape of Covid. Professionals are challenged to meet the needs of families while constantly adjusting the expectations we have related to best practice service delivery and those required from the systems we work within.  This session will highlight the shared experience and parallel process of expectations, capacity for stress, and considerations for navigating this time in a way that supports healthy relationships for all.

Presented by Angie Klinefelter, MS, LMFT, IMH-E®(III)

Level: Basic | Includes Clinical Content

9. Reconceptualizing Training as “Professional Formation” in the Field of Infant Mental Health

Tuesday, October 27 | 1:30 – 3:00 CST

The teaching and helping professions continually evolve in their discernment of effective ways of answering two key questions about our multidisciplinary workforce development:
1. How do we best teach about our discipline?
2. How do learners best come to know what they know. 

This presentation challenges common methods of professional development which frequently rely on “training” that focuses on transmission of core knowledge, viewed as fundamental to the discipline and on the imparting of skills, viewed as derivatives of that core knowledge. This approach fails to adequately recognize and apply the science of interpersonal processes and the affective and interpersonal context of our work. The concept of “Formation” will be introduced and explained as a model that embodies notions of “integration”, “personal unfolding”, layered knowledge of “self”, and three interrelated “ways” of development: knowing, doing and being.   Using three theoretical frameworks: polyvagal theory, interpersonal neurobiology and self-regulation, this model of “Formation” can serve as guidance for all who seek to support the growth of a responsive, multidisciplinary field as our understanding of infant- and all of human development – unfolds.

Presented by Gerard Costa, PhD, DIR-C®-Training Leader, IMH-E® (IV)

Includes Clinical Content