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New Master’s Degree in Early Intervention Focuses on Infant Mental Health

Imagine you are a parent whose 18-month-old daughter is not meeting typical developmental milestones like babbling and crawling. Your family says not to worry and that she is just a “late bloomer”. Your friend says your child will not get into preschool if she falls behind. You are confused and concerned. What can you do?

The Early Intervention system can help. Established under Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Early Intervention program (or “EI” for short) mandates and funds evaluations and service for young children, birth to age 3, who are facing developmental challenges.

Like many publicly-funded systems, EI itself is challenged by inadequate numbers of early intervention specialists available at the state level to conduct assessments and provide the various therapies an infant or toddler may require for their developmental need.

Erikson’s new degree program, the Master of Science in Early Childhood Education (MSECE) Early Intervention, will create more EI professionals and specialists who can provide critically needed services. The degree is distinguished from others by its focus on infant and early childhood mental health (IECHMH).

Erikson Senior Instructor Sarah Martinez, co-director of the new master’s in early intervention online degree program, is an expert on early childhood intervention and IECHMH.

‘For many years, Illinois’ Early Intervention system has used the motto “The sooner we start, the further they will go’,” Martinez says. “We know early intervention works to support the development of infants and young children. Our new master’s degree, focused on supporting students to become early intervention professionals, is uniquely designed with an infant and early childhood mental health focus. That means students will learn to be practitioners who provide relationally focused services to infants, young children and families to support the child’s development in the context of their family, community and culture.”

Benjamin Delgado, Jr., Bureau Chief for Early Intervention and Part C Coordinator in Illinois, is familiar with the Erikson approach to EI.

“Erikson Institute is well-known in the early intervention community for its academic programs that elevate the importance of infant and early childhood mental health,” Delgado says. “This new online degree will not only create more EI professionals, it will ground their work in a relationship-based model that empowers parents to understand their children’s physical and emotional needs and how to meet them. This knowledge is essential not just from birth to 3 but throughout that child’s life.”

Students in the new online MSECE degree will complete internship experiences instead of student teaching as the program does not lead to licensure. However, graduates will qualify for credentialing as Developmental Therapists in Illinois and will be eligible for other credentials/endorsements related to infancy and IECHMH.

Learn more on our Early Intervention degree page

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