Area Of Expertise

As Demonstrated by
Theoretical Foundations
Knowledge AreasFor infants, very young children, and families referred and enrolled for services:
pregnancy & early parenthood

infant/very young child
development & behavior

Infant/very young child & family-centered practice

relationship-focused, therapeutic practice

family relationships & dynamics

attachment, separation, trauma, grief, & loss

psychotherapeutic & behavioral
theories of change

disorders of infancy/early childhood

mental and behavioral
disorders in adults

cultural competence
Supports and reinforces parent’s capacity to seek appropriate care during pregnancy

Identifies both typical and atypical development during pregnancy, infancy, and early childhood through formal observation, assessment, and in day-to-day interactions with the infant/very young child and family

Provides information, guidance and support to families related to the development and care of infants/very young children to further develop their parenting capabilities and the parent-infant/very young child relationship; ensures that the information is provided in the family’s language

Develops service plans that take into account each infant’s/very young child’s and family’s unique needs, desires, history, lifestyle, concerns, strengths, resources, cultural community, and priorities

During observations and assessments, identifies emerging competencies of the infant and very young child within a relationship context

Supports and reinforces each parent’s strengths, emerging parenting competencies, and positive parent-infant/very young child interactions and relationships

Helps parents to:
  • "See" the infant/very young child as a person, as well as all the factors (playing, holding, teaching, etc) that constitute effective parenting of that child
  • Derive pleasure from daily activities with their children

Shares with families realistic expectations for the development of their infants/very young children and strategies that support those expectations

Demonstrates familiarity with conditions that optimize early infant brain development

Recognizes risks and disorders of infancy/early childhood conditions that require treatment, intervention, and/or the assistance of other professionals from health, mental health, education, and child welfare systems

Shares with families an understanding and appreciation of family relationship development

Applies understanding of cultural competence to communicate effectively, establish positive relationships with families, and demonstrate respect for the uniqueness of each client family’s culture

Accurately interprets information from informal and formal observations and assessments to identify capacities and strengths, as well as developmental delays and/or emotional disturbance in infants and very young children served

Accurately interprets information from informal and formal observations and assessments to identify capacities and strengths, as well as relationship disturbances, disorders, and risks in early childhood families

Develops service plans that take into account each infant’s/very young child’s and family’s unique needs, desires, history, lifestyle, concerns, strengths, resources, and priorities

Provides services that reinforce and nurture the caregiver-infant/young child relationship

Engages in parent-infant/young child relationship-based therapies and practices to explore issues (including attachment, separation, trauma, loss) that affect the development and care of the infant/very young child

Area of Expertise

As Demonstrated By:
Law, Regulation, & Agency Policy
Knowledge Areas
ethical practice

government, law, & regulation

agency policy
Exchanges complete and unbiased information in a supportive manner with families and other team members

Practices confidentiality of each family’s information in all contexts with exception only when making necessary reports to protect the safety of a family member (eg, Children’s Protective Services, Duty to Warn)

Maintains appropriate personal boundaries with infants/very young children and families served, as established by the employing agency

Promptly and appropriately reports harm or threatened harm to a child's health or welfare to Children’s Protective Services

Accurately and clearly explains the provisions and requirements of federal, state, and local laws affecting infants/young children and families (eg, Part C of IDEA, child protection, child care licensing rules and regulations) to families, child or foster care staff, community-based programs

Shares information with non-citizen families and service agencies about the rights of citizen children of non-citizen parents

Personally works within the requirements of:
  • Federal and state law
  • Agency policies and practices
  • Professional code of conduct

Areas of Expertise

As Demonstrated By:
Systems Expertise
Knowledge Areas
service delivery systems

community resources
Assists families to anticipate, obtain, and advocate for concrete needs and other services from public agencies and community resources

Actively seeks resources to address child and family needs

Works collaboratively with and makes referrals to other service agencies to ensure that the child(ren) and family receives services for which they are eligible and that the services are coordinated

Helps parents build the skills they need to access social support from extended family, neighbors, and friends needed and as available in the community

Makes families and service providers/agencies aware of community resources available to families

Areas of Expertise

As Demonstrated By:
Direct Service Skills
Knowledge AreasFor infants, very young children, and families referred and enrolled for services:
observation & listening

screening & assessment

responding with empathy

intervention/treatment planning

developmental guidance

supportive counseling

parent-infant/very young child
relationship-based therapies & practices


life skills

Establishes trusting relationship that supports the parent(s) and infant/very young child in their relationship with each other and that facilitates change

Works with the parent(s) and the infant/very young child together, often in the home, in accordance with accepted practice

Observes the parent(s) or caregiver(s) and infant/very young child together to understand the nature of their relationship, developmental strengths, and capacities for change

Conducts observations, discussions, and formal and informal assessments of infant/very young child development, in accordance with established practice

Observes and articulates the infant’s and parent’s perspectives within a relationship context

Recognizes and holds multiple viewpoints, eg, the infant, the parent, the service provider

Interprets and synthesizes information (including family perceptions and priorities) from observations, discussions, and formal and informal assessments to:
  • Identify and feed back to the parent(s) or caregiver(s) the strengths, capacities, needs, and progress of the infant/very young child and family/caregiver(s)
  • Develop mutually agreed upon service plans incorporating explicit objectives and goals
  • Formulate clinical recommendations that guide best practice

Effectively implements relationship-focused, therapeutic parent-infant/young child interventions that enhance the capacities of parents and infants/very young children

Helps parents identify goals and activities that encourage interaction and that can be woven into the infant’s/very young child’s and family’s daily routines

Uses multiple strategies to help parents or caregivers:
  • Understand their role in the social and emotional development of infants/very young children
  • Understand what they can do to promote health, language, and cognitive development in infancy and early childhood
  • Find pleasure in caring for their infants/very young children

Promotes parental competence in:
  • Facing challenges
  • Resolving crises and reducing the likelihood of future crises
  • Solving problems of basic needs and familial conflict

Uses toys, books, media, etc, as appropriate to support developmental guidance

Identifies/diagnoses disturbances or disorders of infancy and mental illness in family members, as appropriate, using available diagnostic tools (eg, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), Diagnostic Classification of Mental Health and Developmental Disorders of Infancy and Early Childhood (DC-0 to 3R)

Attends and responds to parental histories of loss as they affect the care of the infant/very young child, the parent’s development, the emotional health of the infant/young child, and the developing relationship

Recognizes environmental and caregiving threats to the health and safety of the infant/very young child and parents, and takes appropriate action

Areas of Expertise

As Demonstrated By:
Working With Others
Skill Areas
building & maintaining relationships

supporting others/mentoring


resolving conflict

empathy & compassion

Builds and maintains effective interpersonal relationships with families and professional colleagues by:
  • Respecting and promoting the decision-making authority of families
  • Understanding and respecting the beliefs and practices of the family's culture
  • Following the parents’ lead
  • Following through consistently on commitments and promises
  • Providing regular communications and updates

Works with and responds to families and colleagues in a tactful and understanding manner

Provides positive, specific feedback to encourage and reinforce desired behaviors and interactions in families

Encourages parents to share with other parents (eg, through nurturing programs, parent-child interaction groups)

Provides emotional support to parents/caregivers and children when sad, distressed, etc

Assists families to develop the skills they need to become their own advocates

Models appropriate behavior and interventions for new staff as they observe home visits

Collaborates and shares information with staff of child care, foster care, community-based programs, and other service agencies to ensure effective, coordinated services

Works constructively to find “win-win” solutions to conflicts with colleagues (eg, interagency, peer-peer, and/or supervisor-supervisee conflicts)

Training/coaching of caregivers and/or other professionals (eg childcare teacher, foster parent, health, mental health, legal)

Areas of Expertise

As Demonstrated By:
Skill Areas


Actively listens to others; asks questions for clarification

Uses appropriate non-verbal behavior and correctly interprets others’ non-verbal behavior

Communicates honestly, sensitively, and empathetically with families, using non-technical language

Obtains translation services as necessary to ensure effective communication with families who may experience a communication barrier

Writes clearly, concisely, and with the appropriate style (business, conversational, etc) in creating notes, reports, and correspondence
Competency Details

Areas of Expertise

As Demonstrated By:
Skill Areas
analyzing information

solving problems

exercising sound judgment

maintaining perspective

planning & organizing
Sees and can explain the “big picture” when analyzing situations

Sees and can explain the interactions of multiple factors & perspectives

Assigns priorities to needs, goals, and actions

Considers difficult situations carefully

Evaluates alternatives prior to making decisions

Integrates all available information and consults with others when making important decisions

Generates new insights and workable solutions to issues related to effective relationship-focused, family-centered care

Defines, creates a sequence for, and prioritizes tasks necessary to perform role and meet the needs of families

Employs effective systems for tracking individual progress, ensuring follow up, and monitoring the effectiveness of service delivery as a whole
Competency Details

Areas of Expertise

As Demonstrated By:
Skill Areas

self awareness


professional/personal development

emotional response

parallel process
Regularly examines own thoughts, feelings, strengths, and growth areas; discusses issues, concerns, actions to take with supervisor, consultants, or peers

Consults regularly with supervisor, consultants, peers to understand own capacities and needs, as well as the capacities and needs of families

Seeks a high degree of agreement between self-perceptions and the way others perceive him/her

Remains open and curious

Identifies and participates in learning activities related to the promotion of infant mental health

Keeps up-to-date on current and future trends in infant and very young child development and relationship-focused practice

Uses reflective practice throughout work with infants/very young children and families to understand own emotional response to infant/family work and recognize areas for professional and/or personal development

Recognizes and responds appropriately to parallel process