IFMH Graduate Certificate

Outcomes and Objectives


  • approach their work with families from a perspective that facilitates partnership and collaboration and hence enhances the intended aims of interventions;
  • provide accurate information to families so as to better promote the kinds of infant-family and infant-caregiver relationships that will enhance development;
  • effectively employ team-building skills to provide better support for infants and their families;
  • work effectively within a variety of entry-level positions and settings, including health and home-based services, child-care, and child welfare environments;
  • aid families in obtaining services they need to best promote infant development.


The Program is guided by the novel presumption that during the course of their childhood virtually every child will be coparented, in one form or another, by more than one significant adult. Program graduates are taught to take a comprehensive coparenting and family systems approach – for research is indicating that the special conceptual and intervention skills advocated by this approach are especially likely to provide enduring benefit to children.


For providers new to the field, the Program provides a strong foundation in infant-family mental health that will support them in the challenges they will face. Our aim is not just to help Program graduates thrive in their efforts with infants and their families, but to help develop individuals who then become future leaders in their agencies, their region, and their discipline.

For experienced service providers, the certificate program will enhance their expertise so that they may better understand and address the specialized and unique needs of this population — either through their own direct service or through more informed guidance of the service providers they oversee.  For persons in related fields who may not work directly with infants and their families, the program will provide an education in an array of critically important topics such as brain-development, attachment theory, family systems theory, and working with systems of care, to further inform the work that they do.


The IFMH Certificate Program’s objective is to create a major and sustained impact in Pinellas County and in other communities nationally and internationally, through the development of a workforce skilled in effectively engaging with families of infants and toddlers in a manner that promotes healthy brain and behavioral development and enhances children’s readiness to learn.

Early brain development and early childhood adjustment are both reliant on the nature of the baby and toddler’s ongoing social experience, and the nature of early development then serves as the foundation not just for the child’s preschool readiness at age 4, but also for lifelong health and illness. Particularly for children aged 0-3 who are at risk for untoward developmental outcomes because of biological and/or significant and unrelenting psychosocial stressors, a competent and informed system of professionals properly equipped to support child and family adjustment is essential.


The goal of the program is to significantly enhance the competencies of front-line professionals, across agencies serving children 0-3. Program graduates develop specialized knowledge about infant and toddler development, about the full range of functional and problematic family dynamics they will encounter in their professional work, and about successfully navigating systems of care to help promote the development of all children, no matter what the child and family’s life circumstances.  They also develop the reflective capacity necessary to work effectively with family and professional team networks on children’s behalf.

The program accomplishes these aims through a one-year sequence of four intensive graduate level courses in the field of infant-family mental health.  The four courses, while diverse, are complementary and comprehensive.  Within each unit of study, students learn both the theoretical and the practical foundations of working of infants and their families, along with integrative themes including self-reflection, cultural competence, trauma-informed care, strengths-based approaches and reflective supervision. Moreover, in contrast with most training approaches which are guided by dyadic (mother-child or caregiver-child) models of service delivery, this program’s emphasis is on provision of services to families.