New framework for training in infant mental health launches

A new competencies framework for all those working with children from 0-2 aims to help practitioners assess their knowledge and identify gaps in their training.

The Infant Mental Health Competencies Framework (IMHCF) has been developed for all those working with families and infants from pregnancy to age two, including health visitors and nursery workers, to help them address their training needs.

It has been drawn up by the Association for Infant Mental Health in partnership with the International Training School for Infancy and Early Years.

The IMHCF will be piloted by a selection of infant mental healthcare practitioners before being offered more widely.

The Association for Infant Mental Health also plans to run a pilot of an Infant Mental Health Recognition Register (IMHRR) from June to enable staff who work on infant mental health to gain recognition of their skills.

President of the association Jane Barlow said, ‘The significance and importance of the Infant Mental Health Competencies Framework simply cannot be understated. The need for the highest, standardised level of infant mental health practitioner training is long overdue and I am pleased that this has now become a reality.

‘The care and nurturing of the mental health in infants and children creates the necessary foundation for a stable society. The Competencies Framework will ensure that healthcare practitioners have access to training and resources; the benefits of which will be far-reaching now and in the future.’


The launch of the Infant Mental Health Competencies Framework (IMHCF) at the House of Commons on 3 May

What is the new framework?

The IMHCF features 63 competencies which are divided into seven areas:

  • relationship-based practice
  • normal and atypical development
  • factors that influence caregiving
  • assessment of caregiving
  • supporting caregiving
  • reflective practice and supervision
  • working within relevant legal and professional framework

Three graded levels to each competency allow the framework to cater for staff working in a variety of roles to support the socio-emotional development of infants.

The three levels are:

  • Level 1: general knowledge and skills (for early years practitioners)
  • Level 2: advanced knowledge and skills (for nursery managers, health visitors, midwives etc)
  • Level 3: the knowledge and skills required to supervise and manage (for parent-infant psychotherapists and specialist health visitors)

Self-assessment grids are provided for each level to record whether practitioners have ‘achieved’ a competency or are ‘working towards’ it.

  • More information is available here 

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