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Diversity in Early Relationship Support: Equity-Focused Training in Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation

Program Description

The Center for Early Relationship Support (CERS) at Jewish Family & Children's Service Boston is offering a new training program in Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (IECMHC) for providers of color. This free, comprehensive course seeks to bring more providers of color into the IECMH consultation field in order to better support children from all racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Learn more about the training program from the slides below:   

Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation is a culturally sensitive, trauma-informed, prevention-based service that pairs mental health consultants with early childhood caregivers to help them understand challenging behaviors and better support the healthy social and emotional development of children. For more details, see the JF&CS IECMHC webpage.

Participants in this course will explore the IECMHC knowledge base and take a practical, in-depth look at the work itself, utilizing principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion to learn together, reflect deeply on their own experiences, and discover how this work can be a significant force for change and empowerment for children and adults alike. As a pilot program, we will also welcome participant feedback throughout the year to ensure we meet their learning needs, and to continue to improve the training for future cohorts.

As a foundation for course content, participants will take part in training to become certified facilitators for Circle of Security groups for parents and early educators.  The Circle of Security is an evidence-based program to promote emotional connection in children’s earliest relationships.

Note that this tuition-free course, alongside participation in the Circle of Security training, prepares candidates for certification or endorsement in I/EMHC through the Massachusetts Associatino of Infant Mental Health (MassAIMH) and other organizations supporting the workforce of Early Childhood Mental Health Consultants. It is particularly appropriate for those seeking to work as Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health Consultants in Head Start, Early Head Start and other childcare and early learning settings. 

Program Goals:  

The IECMHC Training Program offers clinicians, consultants, and others supporting the social and emotional growth of children 0-5 and their families the opportunity to: 

  • expand their clinical knowledge, skill set, and experience in consultation
  • explore their use of consultation as a way to enhance observation and reflection among early educators and parents
  • expand their knowledge about early childhood development
  • investigate the nature of attachment and difficulties connected to attachment, the impact of trauma and ACEs (adverse childhood experiences) on developmental mastery, and the importance of strong relationships to social and emotional well-being and later school readiness
  • learn about and practice effective strategies to address challenging child behaviors
  • embrace the work of promoting infant and early childhood mental health using an equity lens to ensure all families have access to services that are responsive to their diverse needs
  • become familiar with assessment and screening tools to measure social and emotional development and the impact of trauma
  • develop strategies for reflective capacity, self-care, and professional development as ways to foster longevity in the field

Date and Time:  

The IECMHC Training Program meets weekly on Wednesday mornings from 9-11 am, starting in September 2022 and running through June 2023. The weekly, 2-hour teleconference sessions include:

  • Course Seminar: The seminar meetings make up 10 of the weekly course sessions, along with 2 in-person retreat sessions of 6 hours each. The retreats are scheduled for December 2022 and March 2023, and will be run in accordance with COVID protocols. The total in-class time for the seminar portion of the course is 32 hours. 
  • Group Reflective Practice Sessions: The weekly course meetings include 8 sessions of Group Reflective Practice, on an alternating schedule with the seminar meetings.  
  • Circle of Security Group Participation: Course attendees will learn about Circle of Security first-hand by participating in a Circle of Security group for 8 of their weekly course sessions. 
  • Reflective Supervision: The weekly course meetings include 6 weekly sessions of IPTI’s Reflective Supervision course. 
  • Additional Course Learning: Course participants have the opportunity to participate in Circle of Security (COS) Facilitator training at no additional cost. This training is approximately 35 hours in duration, and is completed outside of the regular weekly course meeting time.  With the completion of COS Facilitator training, course participants will be certified to serve as independent Circle of Security Group Facilitators. 

Meet our Faculty: 

Terri B. Chebot, M.Ed

Program Director, Instructor

Terri is the program director for the Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation training project and the coordinator for ECMHC Services at JF&CS. She has cultivated partnerships with early education & care systems in the greater Boston area and supervises the consultants on the team. She is also a practicing consultant to 2 of these systems. Having trained in Infant Mental Health and worked with mothers and babies for 25 years, Terri translated her passion for supporting these primary foundational relationships to the foundational relationships that develop in systems of care. Within these systems, Terri has applied her belief that children thrive as their caregivers better understand themselves and the needs underneath the behaviors they see in children. As a trainer in JF&CS’s Infant Parent Training Institute, Terri has developed a myriad of trainings and regularly teaches Reflective Supervision in Early Education & Care.  She is also a certified trainer in Circle of Security for parents and teachers. Terri graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Ohio State University and received a Masters of Education from Boston University.

Kathleen Groom-Nguyen, MSW, LCSW

Program Coordinator, Instructor

Kathy is a licensed certified social worker focusing on Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health (IECMH) and family support at Jewish Family & Children’s Service (JF&CS). Kathy’s experience includes supervision in home visiting and residential programs serving young families, developing training for early education and home visiting staff, and research in mental health and public health. Kathy currently works as an IECMH Consultant at JF&CS’s Center for Early Relationship Support. In this role, she partners with educators and caregivers serving infants and young children in Boston’s early childhood education programs.  As a trainer in JF&CS’s Infant-Parent Training Institute, Kathy also teaches Reflective Supervision, Circle of Security, and Parent Mental Health to family support and early education staff. Kathy is passionate about social justice and supporting families experiencing poverty, homelessness, systemic racism, and other forms of oppression. Kathy received her Bachelor’s in Psychology from Harvard College, and her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Washington, Seattle.  She has additional training in Infant Mental Health, Infant Observation and Reflective Supervision. 

Latifah Hasan, MSW

Program Instructor

Bringing the experience of over 40 years as an educator, counselor and administrator, Latifah Hasan has worked across a broad spectrum of human service agencies, including child welfare, public health, mental health, early care and education and higher education. As an educator, she encourages shared learning by utilizing personal life experiences and beliefs. She has extensive experience in the field of early care and education. While serving as the Vice President of Child & Family Development at the Dimock Center, she oversaw all their early care programs, including Head Start, Early Head Start and preschool programs serving over 500 children. She has been a strong advocate for universal child care since the early 2000s while serving as the co-chair for the 0 to 8 Coalition. She believes that change occurs through the power of collective voices and thus has served on multiple state, city and community coalitions.

Deborah Hirschland, MSW, LICSW

Curriculum Developer, Instructor

Early childhood specialist Deborah Hirschland, MSW, has been working with young children and the adults who care for and teach them for over thirty years. A frequent presenter on early childhood issues in Massachusetts and across the country, she mentors teachers, parents, and clinicians through her work with early care and education programs in the greater Boston area. Deborah is a contributor to the Zero to Three Journal and is the author of Collaborative Intervention in Early Childhood (Oxford University Press, 2008) and When Young Children Need Help: Addressing Emotional, Behavioral, and Developmental Challenges (Redleaf Press, 2015). 

Peggy H. Kaufman, M.Ed., LICSW

Program Advisor

Peggy is the founding director of the Center for Early Relationship Support at Jewish Family and Children’s Service, where for 32 years she has worked in various capacities with infants/young children and parents of newborns providing direct service, supervision, and developing support and clinical intervention programs. Peggy is a founding faculty member of the Infant Parent Training Institute (IPTI), a leading institution in New England that offers integrated clinical and theoretical training in infant/early childhood mental health.

Laura Gomez Machiavelo, BA

Program Instructor

Laura Gomez Machiavelo is originally from Mexico, where she trained as a clinical psychologist. She has been working with kids and families for over 12 years. At JF&CS, she works in the Early Connections-Conexiones Tempranas program, serving Latin American families with a focus on dyadic work and attachment. Laura also serves as an Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant in early childhood education centers, including the Waltham Family School. Laura's work is focused on reducing the impact of childhood trauma and helping the immigrant population, bringing a culturally sensitive and social justice lens to her work with families. Laura's recent studies have been in Infant Mental Health and she is also interested in postpartum depression and supporting families with NICU experiences.

Lisa McElaney, MS, LMHC

Curriculum Developer, Instructor

Lisa is an Infant/Parent Clinician at the Center for Early Relationship Support at Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Greater Boston. There, she has worked on several teams as a home-visiting psychotherapist supporting new parents and early relational health. She is rostered in Child-Parent Psychotherapy (CPP) and trained in EMDR and other trauma treatment modalities. She is also a certified facilitator of Circle of Security-Parenting and Circle of Security-Classroom. Currently, she works as an I/ECMH consultant at Horizons for Homeless Children and Dimock Community Health Center in Boston, MA. Prior to becoming a counseling psychologist, Lisa was a public health researcher and developer of interventions to support maternal and child health. She holds a BA from Bowdoin College, an MFA from Columbia University and an MS in Mental Health Counseling from UMASS, Boston. She is a member of a culturally and racially mixed family and has three adult children who continue to teach her about the complexities of growing up in America today.

Class size: 

The course will be a small group learning environment with a maximum of 12 participants.


The course participation is free for all admitted applicants.  Course expenses, including course materials, will be covered by the IECMHC Workforce Expansion Project.

Course Texts:

  • Mental Health Consultation in Child Care by Kadija Johnson and Charles Brinamen
  • When Young Children Need Help: Understanding and Addressing Emotional, Behavioral, and Developmental Challenges by Deborah Hirschland
  • Hope and Healing: A Caregiver’s Guide to Helping Young Children Affected by Trauma by Kathleen Fitzgerald Rice and Betsy McAlister Groves
  • When Getting Along is Not Enough: Reconstructing Race in Our Lives and Relationships by Maureen Walker

Who Should Apply?

We seek diverse candidates with lived experience as a member of a community currently underrepresented in the consultation field, including Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and bilingual candidates. 

A bachelor’s degree and 7+ years’ work experience in a mental health field, education, or child development is required; a master’s degree is preferred.  

Our ideal candidate will be mature, flexible, have strong interpersonal skills and an ability to work independently. Knowledge about child development, early relationships and family systems as understood through a racial and cultural equity lens, as well as direct experience working with young children are preferred, but not required.


Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for some disciplines will be available

The admissions process for the 2022-23 DERS program year is now closed. We will open the admissions process for the 2023-24 program year in the spring of 2023, including hosting Information Sessions outlining the details of the program.

To receive updates about the DERS training program, as well as other training opportunities offered by CERS and the Infant-Parent Training Institute (IPTI), please fill out this contact form. 


Download Application form here

Download References form here

Along with your application, a copy of your resume or CV and two professional references are required. The application process will include an interview via teleconference. After receiving a completed application and letters of reference, DERS staff will contact candidates to schedule an interview. 

For more information, please contact the IECMHC Training Program at or 781-693-5622.

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