Graduate Certificate in Early Childhood Mental Health

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Early childhood Mental Health social work

Are you planning to pursue a Master's in Social Work with a goal of providing mental health services to young children and their families?

If your goal is to provide high-quality mental health services to infants, toddlers and preschoolers and their families, as well as consultation to early care and education providers, you may be interested in Wheelock College's Graduate Certificate Program in Early Childhood Mental Health. This 4-course program, which is open only to students pursuing an MSW degree at Wheelock, provides the specialized expertise and skills necessary to to deliver effective clinical services to young children and their families. This program also prepares mental health practitioners to provide consultation to form effective and collaborative relationships and provide consultation to parents, teachers, and other adults who play important roles in the lives of young children.

Specialized Skills for MSW Candidates

  • Students enrolled in Wheelock's MSW Program can obtain a Graduate Certificate in Early Childhood Mental Health while obtaining their Master's, graduating with both a Master's in Social Work and the Graduate Certificate.

Growing Demand for Mental Health Professionals

Discoveries in brain science have led to increased recognition of the importance and life-long implications of early social and emotional development. As a result, funding and opportunities to provide mental health services to young children and their families are steadily increasing. However, the supply of clinicians with expertise in working with young children is lagging behind the demand. Mental health professionals completing Wheelock's Graduate Certificate Program in Early Childhood Mental Health will have an advantage as this area of practice continues to expand.

This specialized graduate certificate program prepares clinicians to provide mental health services and consultation in a variety of settings, including:

  • Early care and education programs
  • Kindergarten and early elementary grades
  • Head Start and Early Head Start programs
  • Early Intervention programs
  • Home-visitation programs
  • Child Protection Agencies, such as DCF

Required Courses

The program includes the following courses, all of which emphasize culturally relevant, strengths-based, and evidence-informed approaches to assessment and intervention.

Early Childhood Mental Health, Practice, Policy & Research
Provides an overview of the field of Early Childhood Mental Health, its theoretical frameworks, research findings on best practice and other topics, consultation and supervision models, programs for young children and their families, and relevant policy issues.
Offered Spring semester

Child Development: The Early Years
Provides a foundation for understanding theory and research on infants' and young children's physical, emotional, social, moral, and cognitive development.
Offered Summer Session

Risk and Resiliency in Infancy
Assists participants in developing an understanding of the impact of risk conditions and the role of protective factors in infant development, with an emphasis on infants diagnosed with or at risk for developmental delays.
Offered Fall semester

Clinical Practice with Young Children and their Families
Enables participants to develop advanced-level skills in engagement, assessment, service planning, and intervention with young children and their families, particularly those at high levels of risk.
(Prerequisite: Completion of the first two courses in the certificate program)
Offered Spring semester

Why Wheelock?

Wheelock College has been leading the way in promoting best practices for working with children and their families for 125 years. Wheelock is widely recognized for its outstanding early childhood education, social work, and human development and family studies programs.

Faculty from these programs, along with staff from Wheelock's Connected Beginnings Early Childhood Mental Health Training Institute, possess a wide range of expertise as well as a commitment to trans-disciplinary education and practice.

Participants in the Early Childhood Mental Health certificate pro-gram benefit from this diversity of knowledge and skill, as well as from Wheelock's commitment to human rights and social justice, embodied in its mission to improve the lives of children and their families.

Lenette Azzi-Lessing, MSW, PhD, As­sociate Professor of Social Work, is the Director of the Graduate Certificate Program in Early Childhood Mental Health. An Associate Professor of Social Work, Dr. Azzi-Lessing has more than 25 years of experience in developing and operating programs for young children and their families and is a recognized expert in policy and practice with this population.

Certificate Requirements

Applicants to the program must be enrolled as a student in Wheelock's Master of Social Work program.

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